|Photo Credit: butkovicdub from morgueFile.com|
As I glanced through facebook over the weekend, there were countless pictures of beautiful young ladies and handsome young men looking ever so debonair for the perfect prom photo. Wasn’t my own high school prom just yesterday? It feels like it was. Where did those twenty-something years in between there go? That’s what I want to know.
I do know that during those years since my prom, God blessed me with three little ones and they call me…Mom. What I can’t seem to grasp is how fast my children have grown. As I now stand eye to eye with my 12-year-old son, I want to cry. Is he really as tall as I am? Sigh. He used to fit snuggly in my arms in the rocking chair. I used to cry because he never slept as a baby more than 30 minutes at a time. I would cry because I didn’t know why on earth he was crying. And, as a brand-new mommy, sometimes I just cried for no reason at all. Now, I get teary-eyed because he’ll slowly be inching his way out of the nest over the next few years.
Just the other day, I was holding my 6-year-old daughter on my lap in public. I started swaying a little in the chair and patting her. She enjoyed it for a moment and then whispered in my ear, “Mommy, don’t do that. People will think that I’m a baby and I’m not a baby.” Sigh.
I ran across an article by Shelley Emling in which empty-nesters offer ten snippets of advice to those of us who still have little birdies at home. I thought it was definitely worth a share. Here are the reminders…straight from the nest:
1. The older the children get, the more you realize how precious the time is. “When they are little, you feel like they will be that way forever! Therefore, take as many family vacations together as possible. They make lasting memories of real quality time spent together. Once they go to college and have their own responsibilities, it just gets more complicated.” — S.W.
2. Get to know their friends. “Encourage them to have their friends to your house. You learn more about your kids from whom they befriend than anything else. Be non-judgmental and open to discussion about anything so when they are away, they won’t feel like anything is off limits to discuss with you if they need to.” — L.S.
3. Have family dinners often and make them a priority. “The dinner table is a place for sharing all that’s important with unconditional love, respect, and openness to discussing ideas. Make it a safe place to be heard and not judged.” — J.C.
4. At the end of every year, sit down with your child and write down their memories of the past 12 months. “When they turn 18, get those pieces of paper out and look back on all that’s happened.” — K.P.
5. Go to every play, sporting event, or awards assembly you possibly can. “You never want to be that parent who had to work and, therefore, just couldn’t be there for your child.” — A.G.
6. Listen from the front seat when they sit in the back. “Don’t comment. You will learn more about their daily lives when you are chauffeuring them back and forth to activities than you can imagine.” — A.T.
7. If your kid tells you a secret, and asks you not to tell anyone, don’t. “If you tell your girlfriends, it will get back to them. It really will.” — K.L.
8. Unplug when you’re with your kids. “When your kid talks to you, PLEASE turn off the cell phone and the computer. You can check email after they go to bed.” — E.K.
9. Help your kids figure out their strengths and interests. “Try to help your child discover things they are truly passionate about, and then nurture those interests.” — S.W.
10. Be affectionate — always. “When your child hugs you, never be the first one to let go.” — M.M.
All this talk about the nest reminds me of a poem I wrote in August of 2012 as the kids began a new school year. It’s called, “Time to Fly.”
It’s time to fly my little ones – oh my, how you have grown,
To think that God gave you to us…for our very own!
To love and to teach - His words along the way,
First days of school are bittersweet, all the moms will say.
I won’t look at your baby pix, nope, won’t even dare,
How I’ll miss your little laugh, the sweet smell of your hair.
Oh, come on now, it’s okay, I wipe away MY tears,
Can’t believe how fast they flew – you know, that thing called years.
“Are you nervous, little one? Grasshoppers in your belly?”
“You got it, Momma, you’re so right and also very silly!”
I wonder if you’ll be okay – will others treat you nice?
Why DID I put my make-up on? I’ve put it on now twice.
Good-byes are the hardest, but I know you’ll be just fine,
You’ll read and write, play and learn, and count to ninety-nine.
For you must know, my love, that nothing is impossible,
For the word itself becomes the phrase, “I’M possible.”
Just be yourself, be who you are, let Him guide your way,
Bring some sunshine to a friend – it’s sure to make your day.
Listen to the teachers – let them see your heart,
For teachers are a gift from God – their lives you’ll be a part.
Please try hard, give your all, and do the best you can,
Not one of us is perfect, though – no woman and no man.
Give thanks each day for all you have, for all that you receive,
Offer struggles to the Lord, He knows that you believe.
If you’re sad or lonely, while you are away,
Know that you are on my mind and just for you, I pray.
Through all of this my little birds – the nest is always here,
You’re always welcome here at home, remember that, my dear.
Now, go out there and be all…that you were born to be,
Make new friends, learn great things – you mean the world to me.
Even though it’s time to fly, I see your newborn face,
But, keep God first and things you do will fall right into place.
Mom and Daddy can be taught a thing or two still…so,
Knowledge is learning something new…while Wisdom…
Let’s remember to enjoy all the precious, present moments before the kiddos spread their wings and fly…straight from the nest.