Moving past my past

They say letting go of your child is hard...especially the last one.

A glimpse out my driver’s side window brought old memories right back to me. A group of five & six year olds were playing soccer. Some kids raced after the ball, while others watched, unsure whether to chase after them or wait for the action to come back their way.

Suddenly, I traveled years into my past. Even though these players were different, it was the same field with the same slant of the sun. I smiled. It didn’t seem that long ago that I watched from those same sidelines.

I felt melancholy, a sinking feeling that I no longer could have my past back. Did I want to re-live having a six year old? Not really. But 14 years ago there was still so much left to do. A boy to raise. Games to be played. Lessons to be learned. I drove on past the field and let my mind have its way.

Soon I was re-living school days and birthdays, holidays and every-days. Age seven, ten, twelve, fifteen, each milestone moving us forward, but pushing more events into my past. By age 17 & 18 all the significant talks were crammed into tiny time slots. Wisdom was now conveyed in sound bytes.

I turned the car around and went back to the field. The kids were still playing, but I didn’t watch them. I scanned the line of parents. Today’s game will soon be over. Yes, there will be others, but the past will come to all of them too. Any relationships they hope to have will be built one day at a time. Yet, even though each day has 24 hours, our children have less time to give us as they march towards adulthood.

My role has shifted. I’m no longer the active parent. I am not the young mom anymore. My challenge? I am learning that I can have the memories of my past, but I can’t let my past have me. I need to let my son go and trust that he needs me in a different way now. All of my guiding words, daily doses of love and years together remain inside us both. My child-time is over. Sad? Sometimes, but time to be something new has already begun.

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