On Monday, my husband’s parents swooped in to town and whisked our children away to stay with them for a week in Arkansas. A little stay-cation in paradise. I say paradise because they live in a beautiful home that backs up to Lake Loch Lomond in Bella Vista. Every sunrise and sunset looks like a postcard. As a busy work-at-home mom, you’d think I would’ve been giddy to give them a peck on the head, throw a handful of Teddy Grahams in the car and be floating in the pool by the time they reached the highway. Instead, I held my composure until they were out of sight and then proceeded to cry shoulder-heaving sobs in to my husband’s chest.
You see, this is the first time my children have been away from me for so many days in a row. Letting go, I don’t wanna.
This week, as I knew they would, the grandparents have kept the kids so busy they’ve barely had time to call. All I know about the week’s adventures is that they visited a drive-thru safari, stopped at a petting zoo and Katie received her first professional mani/pedi, which she described to me this way:
“Mama, you should see my nails, they’re very pretty and my legs are so smooth. I got THE WORKS!”
I know my children are in exceptional hands so I didn’t worry about them, I just missed them. However, by day 2 of their absence, I loosened up and embraced my freedom by not cooking (sorry, Dougie) rarely wearing pants (Kansas feels like it’s kissing the sun right now) catching up on my reading (I’m still worked up over the ending of Gone Girl) and thoroughly enjoying NOT hearing the shrill little voices of Nickelodeon characters. Oh yeah, I’m looking at you, Timmy Turner.
As much as I don’t wanna let go, I’m gonna have to. It’s the circle of life, Simba. Or something like that. While Jacob was gone this week I enrolled him in his first year of middle school. I walked to his assigned locker in the darkened hall and thought, “here we go.” Over the summer my son has grown at least an inch, he’s shaved off a few pounds and this year he’s started to take on some real responsibilities.
As a wee lad, Jacob used to follow his “Dadoo” around with a pretend lawn mower. Now HE mows the lawn. I wonder if he sings the catchy mower tune that STILL emits from the toy when you press the button.
Oh, I’m mowin’ the lawn and workin’ real hard. And when I’m done I’ll have a beautiful yard.
During his last year at Peterson Jakie signed up for safety patrol, a perk reserved only for 5th graders. He embraced this position of power and like a true Stone, was happiest when it was his turn to be Patrol Leader and blow the whistle because, I quote,
“Those other kids don’t blow their whistles loud enough, or hold their signs right. You have to command your corner.“
This week, like millions of other red-blooded Americans, I watched coverage of the Olympics (tell me again why male swimmers have to wear such dignity-stealing suits), as well as all those commercials showing videos of gymnasts when they were teeny tots wobbling across balance beams, parents helping them tumble and little water babies playing in the pool, their parents all within a safe distance to snatch them up if they ventured in to the deep end.
Although I was cheering on the athletes, I connected with the parents. They sat in the stands with tight jaws and clasped hands while they rocked, swayed and prayed, trying to use sheer will to help their child swim, tumble and vault their way to Gold. There was no better example of this than gymnast, Aly Raisman’s parents reacting to her performance on the uneven bars. If you haven’t seen it, please watch. It still makes me smile. Video HERE.
In less than two weeks I’ll send my “babies” out in to the world again, one to 2nd grade and one to 6th. No matter what they tackle this year, Dougie and I will be right there to cheer them on, even if that means we have to do it from a distance. Middle school, high school, college, it only gets harder from here. I know I need to get used to letting go but, for a little bit longer, I don’t wanna.