I’m exactly 365 days until my first-born goes to college. I’ve been slightly emotional and teary-eyed at Facebook updates my friends are posting complete with pictures of dorm room transformations and emotional embraces as goodbyes are being said. I’m a year from that point, I have time…or so I thought until mass this morning.
We sat to the right back like our family always does in the cathedral downtown. The choir sang peacefully as mass goers funneled in through the narthex. I love attending mass downtown because you see people from all walks and facets of life. The walls are filled with a beautiful melting pot of people created by the same God we all came to worship today.
But something was different this morning. God was sending me a clear message. In front of me a toddler with pig tails sticking up from the center of her head was being held by her grandpa, a pale-faced elementary-aged girl with rosy cheeks was sitting on her mom’s lap to my right, a sleeping infant in her mom’s arms to my left, a college aged girl and her boyfriend sat behind me, and my 12th grade daughter snuggled up next to me in the pew. I was surrounded by the circle of my daughter’s first 17 years of life.
Honestly I didn’t listen to much of what was being said in mass today, I couldn’t focus on any intention or prayer because I was completely distracted by the infant, the toddler, the young girl, the college girl and my daughter.
I relived the tough years waking up several times a night to comfort and feed her as a baby. The busy years chasing her around the playground as a toddler, and the school years trying to protect her from every bully and make sure she was thriving academically. My eyes began to water thinking about the teen years worrying about her and trying to find the right balance between holding her close and letting her go.
But one thing rang constant throughout all those years, the wasted time. If I had everything to do over I would have napped with her more as a baby and not worry so much about having a clean house and homemade baby food. When she was a toddler I would have gotten off the bench more and stopped talking to other moms and jumped on the swings and held her hand down the slide. I would have let her fail more in primary school and not compare and worry so much that she was keeping up with her classmates. I would have let her skip more sports practices to be at family events, middle school parties, or just to have some much-needed “downtime”. I wouldn’t have let other’s expectations; coaches, teachers, family members and friends dictate how my child was to perform, excel or participate in various academic and sports activities in her high school years.
Don’t get me wrong, I did some things right along the way. I don’t have a heart full of regrets and my daughter has turned out to be a pretty awesome kid. I know she’s ready to spread her wings and I will be crying a river feeling empty inside one year from now as she embarks on the next chapter of her life.
So take it or leave it, maybe my story helps bring some perspective to your life. Live, love and have fun now! Hold your baby a little longer tonight even if you have work to do. Blow bubbles with your toddler, the dishes can wait. Take a bike ride with your child, some of the best talks will be during this one on one time. Watch a little Netflix with your teen, let them pick the show…the laundry can get done later.
Don’t let life pass by too quickly, take advantage of the wasted time you still have. So goodnight and God Bless, I’m off to snuggle my daughter…