I knew this would happen…the day would get away from me and I wonld not have written anything. It was a busy day. I’m getting ready to go out of town and my youngest son, Noah, had a Varsity Basketball game, (that’s him in the picture, nailing a three point outside shot) that was supposed to start at 8:00, but actually ended up starting at 8:30 and before I did that I had to go to the gym and before that make dinner, so he would be able to eat before the game. Why, oh why can’t I be one of those mom’s that says, “Here kid, here’s five bucks go to Subway.” I just can’t seem to do that, especially this year. It’s just kind of a special year for us. It’s my baby boys’s (he’d kill me if he heard me say that) senior year. It’s a year of excitement and challenge, a little stressful and filled with lots of lasts: The last soccer game, the last year to be team mom, last basketball game, and driving a car load of smelly, hilarious boys, last Winter Ball, last Prom, and the last of four high school graduations.
I was always the one to scoff “empty nest syndrome.” I made sure that I always had a life separate from my kids. I have never been a mom to live vicariously through any of kids. I always thought, “What’s the big deal? This is what they are supposed to do–grow up and move out, geez!” I always said that I looked forward to them being “up and out.” I, for one, could hardly wait. Then something weird happened. It started at Soccer orientation this year. I had to fill out all the usual forms and as I wrote, grade 12, I felt a little start inside me. I suddenly realized that my youngest son would be graduating from high school and that would be that. How could I not have seen this coming? He was just this little freckled face boy with disheveled hair, riding his tricycle naked down the street , waving at the neighbors as they drove by. He was the little fatty that snuffled at my breast and slept in my arms…What the fuck? What the heck was going on? I was going to have my freedom soon. No more laundry, no more dirty jerseys and stinky shoes. No more making sure there was dinner on the table. I had prepared myself for this…I had! I needed to get a grip, and yet, there I was, getting weepy at soccer orientation…great.
For a while, I was fine, I hadn’t really thought much about it until the last soccer game of the year. They stood in their usual huddle, at the end of the game, they put their hands up together and chanted, “Knights on three! One..two…three..KNIGHTS!” It hit me like a ton of bricks. I teared up, I got the biggest lump in my throat…”This is the last time they will do this together,” I thought– the last time. I see now that it’s going to be this way for the rest of the year. It’s going to hit me over and over again, the everyday things that this kid has done all his life, are going to end at the end of this year. I’ve decided that for the rest of this year I am going to embrace every memory as if it were a precious jewel. As I now watch him play his last basketball season, I drink in every moment, every win, every loss, every three pointer he makes, every smile he flashes when he does, every high five and slap on the shoulder these boys share, I am tucking them all away in my heart, because when the buzzer sounds on that last game of his last season and they chant, “Knights on Three,” the realization that this part of our lives in coming closer and closer to an end, is going to wash over me like a tidal wave and when that happens I want to feel certain, that I took in every precious moment of it all.
I no longer scoff at the idea of empty nest syndrome. I get it now. Sometimes the idea of coming home to an empty house that lacks stinky shoes and dirty jerseys and a young man’s voice saying, “why don’t we ever have any food in this house and what’s for dinner?” makes my chest tighten a little. It’s so enlightening when you realize why people do things that you never understood until you are there yourself, then you have this aha! moment. It’s great. I still don’t get why older people wait until their groceries are all rung up and bagged before they start digging in their purse for their checkbook, but hey! Maybe some day I will! I do look forward to a different season in my life. This what every mother works for, right? Raising a child that is healthy and independent, able to get out there and make it on their on…but I am going to miss this, the turkey sandwiches and scrambled eggs before school. Man, I’m going to miss that boy!