Change slapped me like a dinosaur’s tail this week
Monday morning brought two emotional experiences I had not anticipated. I knew they were both going to happen, I just wasn’t prepared for them to happen on the same day nor was I prepared for their impact.
I am a single working mom. Truth be told, I have always been a single, working mom. I have four children with the man who was my high school sweetheart – we fell in love at sixteen, married at 21 and began a life we thought we would live out together. But our paths shifted and we went our separate ways. But even when we were together, I felt like I was alone. I made decisions alone, I took children to events and doctors’ offices alone, I shopped alone, I cheered my kids on alone, I did laundry and every other household chore (aside form yardwork) alone. I have raised my children alone. Their father left when my oldest was fourteen and my youngest was four.
Monday, my youngest daughter – a newly minted 19-year old – had her first day of college. She received a few local scholarships and is attending Saddleback Community College close by to remain student-debt free, at least for the next two years. Smart girl. Her hope is to transfer to UCLA to earn the necessary degrees for a career in family therapy. She is daughter #3 to have her first day of college.
Also on Monday, my youngest child – my only son – sat for his senior portrait. He begins his last year of high school (my last year too) on September 2nd. I have had a child in public education for the last 22 years. During that time, I have driven two minivans and a couple miniSUVs. At one point, my four kids attended four different schools: pre-school, elementary, junior high, and high school. I can barely recall that year. I spent every spare moment in the car.
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I am always surprised when someone mentions that I have a big family – coming from my extended family, my little one is not big. I have two sisters, four brothers, plus three foster brothers. One of my brothers has 6 children – five grandchildren, another has 7 children – two grandchildren on the way, still another has 4 children – all four girls! And one of my baby sisters has two sons. My life has been full of children and it has been my greatest joy, countered only as my greatest sorrow. Any parent of a grown child understands this statement.
I have spent the last 28 years thinking about and being a mother. My children are my greatest motivation. They inspire me and delight me. They make me laugh hysterically and have made me weep uncontrollably. Come June 2015, as my son triumphantly enters an event center to Pomp and Circumstance, I will weep again.
A new beginning
Every day, we have an opportunity to begin again – not to start over or do over, but to begin anew. To attempt at getting this thing we call life right. I have made my share of mistakes, and I am sure I am not through. But the mistakes are where wisdom is born. I recognize this and I embrace it. We all make poor choices – sometimes, we make them over and over again. I guess wisdom requires practice, too.
I tell my friends with younger children, “Don’t blink” – it is a Facebook mantra I often cry. I wish someone had told this to me over and over again. I did blink and now – now – it is today and I look back searching for those precious moments, aching to take more “first day of school” pictures, yearning for pumpkin-filled Halloweens of Zorro hats, capes, crowns, and gowns. If only I could read “Go, Dog, Go!” one more time or talk about the sweeping plains of “Little House on the Prairie” and mourn the loss of Pa’s dog Jack as he is swept away down the river, only to rejoice at his triumphant return… just one more time.
Don’t get me wrong…
I love life today and I look forward to still busy future. The challenges of raising a growing family while managing my own busy life were difficult and crazy – and I think I balanced it all for as long as I possibly could. So, yes – the timing is right for the next chapter. But I so loved the middle part of this book. It has been my favorite part, full of terror and delight, joy and sorrow, euphoric highs and terrible lows.
This week, I will scream my mantra on every corner. Don’t blink! For in that blink, life moves relentlessly forward and it is all moments and memories. So cherish them, look for them, and make more. Always make more.