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Gone in an instant

“Time flies” has become such a cliché, hasn’t it? But how else do you describe the way time picks up and grows closer to warp speed the older you get?

20120707_151429I still remember how much I wanted to start school when I was little. My brother would head off to the bus and I had to stay home. And now, in a twinkle, it’s my son’s turn to start school. About 3 weeks ago, we heard from the school that they would offer transitional kindergarten and that we should take a look since our oldest qualifies.

I hadn’t expected to walk down that path until next year, knowing he misses the birthday cutoff by about 20 days. An now, suddenly, that reality is thrust in my face. The reality that he’s growing up. That he WANTS to go to school. That time is going more quickly than I like. That my time of influence over him is dwindling and other people will at some point have more influence than we do. That I have to let go. That he’s such a sweet soul and is going to face difficulties with his speech and being a bit behind the others. That other kids can be cruel and no matter how much I want to protect him, I can’t.

That was brought to my attention last night in stark, painful reality. And it almost ended in utter tragedy.

We went to dinner last night with the daughter and her boyfriend. We hadn’t hung out together in a while, so it was nice to visit and have a good meal together. After we said our goodbyes, we went to the car. We were parked on the street, and it’s a busy one headed out to Shelter Island. While we were getting the little one ready for his seat, the oldest was impatient. We had asked him to stand on the sidewalk for a moment and then I was going to walk him to his door, since it’s the one street-side. As we were dealing with M, the wee one, F jetted out in the street.

My heart stopped as both John and I yelled “STOP!!!!” as loudly and forcefully as we could. There were multiple cars speeding by.

He stopped at the edge of the car, just a split second away from getting hit. Our future without two sons flashed before my eyes and I almost lost my dinner right then and there.

Daddy had a long, stern talk with F about being careful and not running into the street. And as I put M in his seat, I said a silent prayer of thanks that he stopped. That he listened for once (because sometimes he keeps going and we have to say stop more than a few times). And that we didn’t have to deal with the “what ifs” that came perilously close to coming true.

And so today, I am hugging my kids a little tighter, grateful for every hug, every mess, every moment. Because it can be taken away in an instant. And we came way too close to that last night.

I can’t keep him by my side forever. I know that. But it doesn’t make it any easier sometimes, this letting go. One of the things we have to get good at as a mom, even as it breaks our hearts to do so.

In spite of all that, though, I do want him to have fun, learn, and make new friends as he starts off on a new adventure, a new phase in his life.

Oh, the places you’ll go, son.

Crying game

Motherhood changes you. It shifts something in your core, tinges how you look at things. I never realized the deep fundamental difference it would make down to my soul.

I sat here, at my desk tonight, sobbing unexpectedly. A short scene on TV reduced me to tears in a brief 30 seconds. Even now, just the memory brings tears to my eyes.

I am not the person I once was. I could watch movies and TV shows without a second thought. Oh sure, things sometimes scared me or disturbed me. But I could distract myself (oooh, something shiny!) and move on.

Not any more.

I was watching Leverage on TNT. It’s new to us, but I’m really beginning to like it. There was a scene in which one of the main characters talked about his son, who died when a treatment was denied. Just them talking about it wasn’t too bad.

But when they flashed to the scene where he remembered his son dying, showed him running into the room to hold his son in his arms after the heart monitors flatlined? I broke down. I sobbed that ugly way when you’re so upset you can hardly breathe, your head pounding from the intensity of it.

Because I think of parents who have lost their children too soon, and then I get a little scared, worrying about my boobah. Wondering how anyone gets through something like that. And not wanting to ever, ever find out.

I’ve always been a little emotional. I cry at movies, poignant scenes, even those darn tissue commercials that were on for a while.

But this? Is something deeper. Something that strikes my core. I can’t bear to watch a child in danger, hurt, or killed. I can’t even read about it. I read Deep End of the Ocean several years ago. I doubt I could handle it now.

Does it ever get easier? This paralyzing fear? This crippling emotion that grips your head and your heart? Is there a way to get through motherhood intact? I don’t know.