So, now it is time for the next confession: To continue our conversation about getting old, I was shocked to realize how much older my children really are and how mature they are growing to become this week. Intellectually, I know they are getting there but sometimes I get stuck in that vision in my mind’s eye. I look at them and see them as I remember them, ignoring the reality of how close to becoming an adult they are. It’s not intentional. I do it with other people as well. My friend’s son Ryan called me on my cell phone this week … the one I picture in my mind as the little boy I was buckling into his car seat from preschool pickup. How can he be old enough to call my phone? My mother is never as old to my eyes as she probably would be to yours. I have little idea what my husband looks like on a daily basis, whether his hair is short or long, he’s wearing a beard or mustache or both or none. I look at him and see him as my favorite memories of him. Obviously, I am not the most observant person …oblivious is probably an apt term for my awareness of how people appear.
The first eye-opener was flying up with my oldest to the Bay Area for her pre-college program. She carried her own weight, literally. The four suitcases loaded with stuff for four weeks, she manhandled three of them through the airport to the shuttle to the rental car as if she were a seasoned traveler. I could barely manage the straggler she left me in addition to my carry-on. When I rented the car, I had to explain the rules of renting a car and why she would not be driving on our trip. Not a conversation I had ever imagined in my wildest dreams. Then we arrived at the dorm and she settled in like a little mother, counseling her suitemates on what to expect, drawing out some of the shyer ones, and establishing her space in a matter of minutes as I would, as if she were an adult. I was quickly relegated to inconsequential status. Not in a thoughtless way, she just didn’t need me there anymore. My quick visit on Monday before catching the flight home was an affirmation of the same—she could handle it on her own quite nicely, deftly making sure I was OK with leaving her before I realized what she was doing.
And she’s not the only one. Last Thursday at the , I was stuck outside for a bit waiting for my middle daughter’s friends to meet me and pick up their tickets (imagine me outside with a sign that says so-and-so’s mom; will call for the unorganized). While talking to a friend, I observed a tall, willowy teenager walking from the parking lot. I admired the figure she cut and commented to the friend that my youngest daughter would appreciate the outfit. But wait, as she grew closer, I noticed the Ugg boots. Then I noticed it was my daughter, who magically grew to almost my height, with a teenager’s build and style in the short month since her 13th birthday. So much for telling her about the outfit, she had invented it herself. When did that happen?
Finally, I watched my middle daughter perform in the Idol competition. She stood onstage, tall and confident and very much a young lady. It was like looking in the mirror and seeing my younger self, with ginger hair and lots more talent and confidence. She coughed during her performance and recovered so nicely, it wasn’t an issue. She even ripped the high heels off her feet and played it off as if it were part of the routine, fooling almost everyone but me. Even the song she sang, Wednesday’s song from The Addams Family Musical, "Pulled”, about growing up and being pulled in a new direction due to a boy, echoed the message the universe has been sending me this week. My children are almost grown and the time remaining is very precious and should be savored, teenage drama, frustration, spots and all. So I will. How about you?
(And if you want to know the outcome of the competition, you’ll have to read the to learn the winners.)