A silent war has been waged in our home for awhile now.
Every day I make dinner. (For some strange reason my family expects it every night. Go figure!)
And every day I ask one of my kiddos to set the table. Many nights, in order to keep them out of the kitchen at the most critical moment when everything is getting ready to be served up, I put the placemats, silverware and napkins on the edge of the kitchen island so they can simply grab them and start setting the table.
Out of sheer mommy habit, I’ve always set out 2 ‘big’ (dinner) forks and 2 ‘small’ (salad) forks. Because, you see, there are 2 older people in our home and 2 younger people in our home and I always assume that younger people need a smaller fork.
But recently, after a certain 12 year old boy has set the table, I’ve noticed that one of those small forks has been switched out for another big fork.
I never switch it back. But, without fail, this pattern repeats itself night after night.
And I’ve realized that the big fork has become symbolic.
Symbolic of my boy growing up…exerting his independence…wanting me to treat him like the 12 year old he is.
Because my boy has a shoe size that is bigger than mine.
Because my boy wears deodorant.
Because my boy went through 2 pant sizes in 1 school year.
Because my sweet baby boy now has hands that are the same size as mine.
Hands which obviously are capable of holding a big fork.
And yet, I don’t think I’ve been ready for him to have the big fork. In fact, frankly it’s hard for me to not give him the little plastic airplane fork he used when he was 2 which I haven’t ever been able to get rid of!
The other day I took my kids to the trampoline park and as I sat there watching them, I noticed another mom with her son.
We had so much in common this mom and I.
Her son was having so much fun jumping. He was chasing after his friends and trying to bounce high enough to get the basketball through the hoop. And he was so cute. Just like my son!
The only difference that I could tell between us was that my son is 12 years old and her son was not quite 2 years old.
But as I watched her anxiously following him around the trampoline park, making sure he was safe and not being bounced all the way to the ceiling or knocked over by an older kid, I realized that in her mind we must seem light years apart. I mean, my kid was the oldest one there by a long shot. And instead of following him around, I was lounging in a nice, comfy chair. In her mind, I’m sure we seemed worlds apart.
The thing is, though, I vividly remember following around my little guy. The memories are so strong that when I close my eyes I am there, standing behind him as he climbs the ladder at the park. Waiting to catch him at the bottom of the slide. Dancing around the house with him, his little feet on top of mine. I can almost feel him.
A couple of weeks ago we thought it would be fun to spend the evening watching old family videos together. I’m always a bit hesitant to do this because quite often it ends with me wanting to curl up in the fetal position and bawl my eyes out over the fact that my babies are no longer babies anymore.
One home movie we watched was from 2006 when my son was 3 years old. And as we watched I felt like I was peeking into someone else’s life. I knew that it was us and yet it seemed like a completely different family. A family from a lifetime ago rather than just 9 years ago.
And in that moment I realized part of why we are always encouraged to live in the present moment as parents.
Why we have to be in the here and now.
You see, if I focus too much on the past, on that darling precious little boy of mine, I’ll just wallow in it. I’ll wish I had done more, I’ll question if I made the right decisions and I might even make my boy feel like I would prefer him as that darling, precious little boy instead of the wonderful young man he’s becoming. (Honestly though there are actually some days when I would prefer him as that little boy especially when he’s rolling his eyes at me!)
But, if I focus too much on the future, on all of the ‘what ifs’ and worry about all of his choices before he’s even made them, then I might start parenting out of fear. I might even try to predict what will happen and not leave room for all of the millions of forks in the road that surely lie ahead.
Someday, years from now, we will watch home movies of the year 2015. And it will seem like I am peeking into the life of another family. I will have vague memories of those moments but my life will be so consumed with what is currently happening that it will seem like another lifetime.
I think we have to live in the ‘now’ out of self-preservation. No matter how much we would wish otherwise, we simply can’t slow down time.
So, we embrace this season…this day…this moment.
And we decide that the war is over.
We are waving the white flag.
We are celebrating the passing of time rather than resisting it.
And the next time we get out the silverware to set the table for dinner, we take out another big fork.
You are sooo right girl! Hit the nail on the head!
Kelly Lawhorn says
So beautifully written. I am about to send my baby off to college next year and I think just yesterday I was you and did I do everything for her at that age that I should of! Don’t wish the days away, they will be here before you know it.
That was so incredibly touching Vanessa. Thanks for sharing! : )
Cindy Bailey says
Very well said and excellent writing, I felt as if I was there, in your shoes. And I can relate somewhat – no children of my own – but my nephew is like my own. And he is now driving and planning on his future. What happened to the little one that crawled in my lap? or woke me up because he thought there were monsters in the living room and he crawled in bed with us? Now? an occasional text, if I text first. LOL. But am so proud of the man he is becoming.
I loved this blog and I thank you so much for sharing – I think you have hit the nail on the head.
Live in the NOW. That is where joy resides.
Kerry Purcell says
What a beautiful post, Vanessa. Every time I pull out “the big fork”, I’m going to be reminded to savor this very moment in time. Thanks for this perfect and wonderful post.
Being a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, I must thank you what a wonderful peek into your family life was enjoyed today. . I loved every word you wrote and the entire “fork” story. So true and honest and heartfelt.
I would only add….continue to enjoy every day now with your big fork son and future big fork daughter because before you realize it, these days will be another period of time to be looked back on. Then, before you realize it, these young ones will be letting you get out that airplane fork for the next generations visits. What a ride you still have awaiting you.
When our children reached that manic age of the “rolling”eyes, I had a friend remind me God made teens the way they are so we wouldn’t miss them so much when they leave home. It’s so part of the plan.
I loved it when those irritating gestures would happen because I could smile and let them know their reaction was perfect and part of Gods plan. (This way we realized the gestures were not to be taken personally.)
Our son is now 44, has two children graduated from college, one in college, one starting kindergarten and one beginning preschool. Trust me, we’ve experienced this growing up thing numerous times.
Wish me luck, starting potty training again today!
Beautiful, Friend. This brought tears to my eyes. Looking back is so bittersweet. I try to be like Mary and “treasure these things up in my heart”, but I know I can’t fully do it with my human limitation and forgetful mind, so I’m praying that in Heaven I will have the ability to remember my children exactly as they were at each age and that the bittersweetness will be gone and it will just be pure sweetness. (Also, I tell myself that’s why I don’t have to scrapbook – because one day I’ll remember it all perfectly 😉
Cheryl Blatchley says
I loved this (as I sit here wiping tears away)! My baby boy will soon be 22 and the funny thing is, I find myself thinking back to when he was your son’s age of 12! It’s what we do! We miss the days they were…., we love them as they are…., and we look forward to when they will be…. Blessings to you!
Kimberly ~ Serendipity Refined says
Beautifully written story from your heart. As a mom of two “big forks”, I share your nostalgia and a bit of wistfulness along with the excitement and joy of watching them grow and become young men. Hugs to you.
Lovely essay. My “baby boy” is 23, works full-time and is living at home while he finishes up with two college classes. I am adjusting to having an adult son in my house, as opposed to the teenager who left for college several years ago. It’s been a big adjustment – for both of us – and you put many of my feelings into words. You never stop being a parent,, but you just have to learn to parent a bit differently, for every stage, I suppose. This brought tears to my eyes.
Shirley@Housepitality Designs says
Oh I so know what you mean and now I am going through this very same thing with my granddaughter….She has graduated to the “big fork” and the cup with no top!…The other day, I had asked her a question…can’t remember just what the question was, but remember the answer so vividly…”Grandma, it is because I am growing up” … It was hard keeping back the tears…but I, like you will embrace the time of watching her grow and getting taller than me!…and she is almost there!…Have a great week Vanessa!
laura@top this top that says
on each last day of school, i cry like a baby. I want so bad to bottle this time and never let things change. I want to preserve the sweetness, innocence and the love of my children.
Whew! You got me on this one girl. I feel your heart totally!
Love this sharing of your heart. Hold tight momma…it goes faster now! My baby boy is 22 now!
Wendy Johnson says
Beautifully written and one to read again and again. My 4 girls are 39 to 19 and you would think once you learned the lessons you would remember but I had to be reminded frequently.