At Wyatt’s 3rd birthday, at Chuck E Cheese’s, I began to sob. When asked why, I replied, “We have only 15 more birthdays until he’s grown.” I wept for hours, and I meant it. It was the first time in my life I had wanted to hold on to time and slow it down, yet it seemed to be slipping away.
And, all of this was before kindergarten and elementary school, before middle school, high school and college (where he is now, but we’ll get to that in a bit). Yes. I was already sad that one day he would grow up and move away.
Deep down, I knew that I wanted him to, for that is the ultimate goal in raising children. But, I think I’ve always had a secret place inside of me that hoped he would grow a ponytail and decide to spend the remainder of his days gaming and eating Cheetos in my basement. I could gripe endlessly about how he should get a job and make something of his life, but secretly, I would be thrilled to have him there.
Sadly, that side of me rarely gets its way. I’ll always wonder if I had been more of a s’mother and less of a mother, could I have raised him to be awkward enough to never leave? But alas, (sigh), he did grow into a well-adjusted, handsome and intelligent man. Where did I go wrong?
The years kept rolling by — fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh birthdays, and the next thing I knew… bam! It was his 18th birthday and college was closing in.
It’s funny how time does that, in a very unfunny sort of way. It just keeps on going, even when you desperately wish you could find the pause button, especially when you wish you could find the pause button. It just keeps going.
Graduation from high school happened, and just like that, it was time to send my precious little 7 pound, 11 ounce baby off to college. Of course now he was 6 feet 3 inches and wore a size 15 shoe, but in my mind he was still my baby — the one with the robot lunchbox that I’d packed lunches in for the past 12 years.
How it went so quickly I’ll never understand, but it did. And, it will for you too.
Those nights when you just wished for a good night’s sleep versus a crying baby, those times you had to speak to the teacher because your child wasn’t focusing in class, all of those are distant memories. The things that seemed like such a big deal in the moment, they all congeal into this memory of 18 years with your baby. And now, off they go.
I will say that nature has this beautiful way of allowing them to slowly break away over the years so that it’s not as painful as you’d imagined it would be when you were watching them laugh at their third birthday at Chuck E Cheese’s. But, I’d be lying if I said it still wasn’t hard.
And now, here I am, nearly a year after sending my baby across the country to attend college. It’s not too shabby. I miss him and the absence of his laughter is felt daily, but we talk, we text, we visit each other. Time goes on.
The best advice I can give you (and this is coming from a avid photographer, so listen up), put down the camera. Put it down. Stop photographing and videoing every moment, every performance. Just stop.
Enjoy the moments with your heart instead. Things are different through a lens. Be there. Be all the way there, feeling, loving, being. Be fully there in every moment. And, keep a journal where you write the funny things, the emotional things, the profound things. Journal them.
And, in between, write letters to your baby, no matter how big they are now or what their shoe size. Write them letters reminding them of how proud you are of the person they’ve become. Cherish every moment. They don’t end, they just change. Love each moment for what it is.