I am terrible at saying goodbye. I’m the one at a party that has to set out at least a half hour before its really time to leave because saying goodbye takes almost as long as saying hello. I don’t like it. And chances are, if we were to meet, and then had a terrific time together- you could feel in my hug goodbye that it’s really hard for me to let go. It’s as if I wish I could push pause by squeezing a little tighter- and a little longer.
I’ve always been that way I guess, even before my first heartbreaking goodbyes. I have drawers full of trinkets and notes and bits of memories of days long past that still give me a smile when I open them. I have a secret box in the attic filled with stuffed animals that I just couldn’t say goodbye to – a worn brown teddy that would comfort me when I was afraid in the dark- a soft stuffed kola given to me by my dad after he returned home from a long trip… perhaps that’s why I love scrapbooking so much. Having a photo and a story in my album means never having to say goodbye to that memory. I can keep it- hold it and relive it. Only hellos when you open a scrapbook. I like that.
But these days, I find myself in the middle of a very long goodbye. It’s one that can’t be heard to many- but each night I hear it in my heart as I say goodnight to my boys. My older guy is a Junior in high school. Cars, college, real life- it’s all waiting for him right ahead in a short distance that it seems only I can see.
Each holiday, each little happy time together- I can’t help but wonder how many more we will have like this. How many more simple days together- how many more movie nights at home- weekend drives and hikes together?
Life is about to hit fast forward- and all I can do is buckle my heart and hold on tight. This is the end result I have worked so many years for. Lessons on responsibility and empathy, rules and guidelines, late nights learning how to study, quiet mornings learning how to tie a little shoe, and then, later, a perfect Windsor knot… it’s all been to raise a young man that will go out and do awesome in this world. I know the next step will involve hard lessons, heart breaks, challenges and risks. And that heavy lessons make for strong adults. There’s no shortcut to that.
But saying goodbye to the days gone by hurts. And each time I hug him goodnight- I find myself holding on a bit longer than he does, as if I am saying- don’t grow. Stay little. Ride your bike and color with chalk and blow bubbles and sit with me as I read you a story. I think this is why I so cautiously guard my little guy’s childhood. I know how very short the years are, and that the magical sweet time of childhood is really just a blink. Let him be little.
But that’s just a wish, and I know that’s not really what I want for either of my boys. I want them to grow and do well in this world- I want so much for them- travel, love, happy homes… but, I cant help but be a little sad at how very far that is from this little home we share- I know each day we have together is gift, but in this mama’s heart, each day is a step further from a simpler time that only comes once in a lifetime.
And while there are so many awesome things ahead I hope I am blessed to enjoy with these two boys- I can’t ignore the goodbye that is whispered as each day falls into night, and they go to sleep- only to wake a little older, and a little further from childhood. The truth is, motherhood is the longest goodbye.