Something happened on Saturday. Our eldest son, our firstborn (and therefore our parenting guinea pig) became an adult…well, legally, anyway.
The day began, as all birthdays do in our house, with presents and cards in the living room, pancakes and maple syrup for breakfast and the usual conversation about where we were at that exact time on the actual day that they were born.
It wasn’t until all three of our children had finished their pancakes and made their way back up to their bedrooms that the photo album came out. There began my downward spiral.
As I looked as his baby and toddler photos I remembered those squidgy little hands, and a lump formed in my throat. As I saw his first pre-school photo, my eyes welled up with tears, remembering the pain of his separation anxiety. As I flipped through numerous photos of our son dressed up as Darth Vader, Doctor Who, a cowboy and a lion, I laughed through the tears running down my face at the thought that little has changed with our Comic Con-going son, who makes his own sci-fi films and loves nothing more than spending his birthday money on a new prop or costume for his latest project. I sobbed as I looked for my son’s baby book, which was full of memories of funny sayings, special holidays and favourite games he loved to play.
The rest of the day continued in the same way, and as we sat down to have dinner with family in the evening, my puffy eyes hidden under far too much mascara, I couldn’t help but stare at my now-adult son, his broad shoulders, large hands and beard allowing no room for doubt that he is no longer my baby, no longer a child.
After dinner that night, our son met up with some friends, and took himself off for a night of adventure in the pubs and clubs of Reading. He made his way home in the early hours of the following morning, impressively sober and full of funny stories of his first evening out as an adult.
As the last few days have passed, I keep asking myself, “Where did the time go? How have I forgotten so much? Did I do a good job raising this man?” I don’t have any answers yet.
I’m sure I’m not the only parent to look back and wonder where the time went, and whether that time was spent well. I’m sure that I am not the only parent who fears that they may not have done a good job, and wishes they could turn the clock back and do things slightly differently. And I am absolutely sure that I am not the only parent who wonders if they have truly prepared their children for all that the world may throw at them.
So, as we move into a new phase for our family, I am left with this one thought – There is still time.
There is still time to be spent in our son’s company. There is still time to be spent creating new memories and funny stories for our family to look back on and laugh at. There is still time to talk with him, listen to him and continue to build a relationship with him. There is still time for each of our three children, and for us, to grow, have fun and continue to make our life together.
Although I don’t have any answers, what I do have is another, extremely important question; one that you might ask yourself: “When it comes to the precious time I still have with those I love, how will I spend it?”