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The Last Time

Apr18

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One morning last week we were running a little late, truthfully nothing more than out of the ordinary, we are almost always pressed for time in the morning. My youngest got out of his bath, put his monkey towel on his head, wrapped the ends of it around his body. I rubbed the hood around on his hair to dry it a bit. He ran into my bedroom, the towel flying behind him like a cape and danced naked in front of the mirror.

I grabbed his t-shirt and pulled it over his head. He held my shoulder to steady himself while I held his pants out for him. First one leg and then the other. Then he brushed my hands away, snapping and zipping his Levis by himself. I don’t recall the last time I dressed him. I don’t know when I will again.

Or if I will.

He is seven years old. He ties his own shoes now. Reads books that have chapters and no pictures. He has his own ideas about clothes, most of which revolve around wearing a pair of red converse hi-top sneakers. He calls everyone “Dude,” including me.

It is these things that slip away without notice. When is the last time you bathed your child, read them a book, carried them on your hip? Do you recall the last time they woke up during the night, or when it was your kisses stopped making the boo-boo better? When was the last time you could pull cheerios, pacifiers, or tiny errant baby socks out of your purse?

When did I stop singing twinkle twinkle little star at bedtime right before I closed the bedroom door?

Sometimes the realization of all I can no longer remember takes my breath away.

*****

For a variety of reasons my 17 year old son decided not to try out for the baseball team at school this year. I didn’t really think much about it until one afternoon when I realized I will likely never watch him play baseball again. I had watched his last game and not even known it. And even worse? I can’t remember the last game of his I watched. For so many years it was such a huge part of our lives, now it is gone, other things filling the void so that the absence is barely noticeable.

The lasts are hard for me to deal with. Mostly because when they are happening we don’t know that they are the last. We have no reason to mark the occasion as special or set it aside as being different than any other day. We are just going on like it is a regular day. It is only in retrospect, in looking back, that the event has any importance. A couple weeks ago my youngest son climbed into bed with me in the middle of the night. It made me realize that he had not woken up in the middle of the night in a very, very long time. While I am grateful for that, I do love my sleep, it was a bittersweet realization.

*****
My oldest son has only one more year left at home before he heads off to college. Already he spends a lot of his time away from the house. He has friends, a girlfriend, a job, and homework (hoo-boy I just made myself laugh) that all occupy his time and keep him busy. Our late night talks over snacks in the kitchen have become less frequent.

But last night was one of those nights, I savor them when they happen. Last night he was standing in the kitchen with his brother, fixing himself something to eat, and I was sitting at one of the stools listening to them talk about school, the two of them laughing. I grasp on to the stories they share now, like they are little treasures, probably giving them more importance than they really deserve. It strikes me how I am on the outside. I am admiring my oldest son, thinking about his beauty, strength, humor and, yes, flaws– all of it, everything that he has become and what I hope he will be as he stands on the very edge of being a man. He catches me looking at him.

“Why are you staring at me?” he asks.

“I just can’t believe it is almost over. That I only have one more year with you.”

“Uh, I am going to college, Mom. Not dying! And it is a year away. That is a long time!”

It has gone so fast. The memories go by in my mind like one of those flip books, slow at first but then gradually picking up speed.

“I know that. I am happy for you. This is such an exciting time in your life. Seventeen years is your whole life, for you it is forever. For me it seems little more than a week. Weren’t you just 7 on Wednesday?”

His brother jumps into the conversation, “You mean IF he goes to college. Don’t be missing him yet! With those grades he may living at home with you for a long time.”

We all laugh.

I listen to them toss love at each other, disguised as insults, the way siblings do.

I hope this isn’t one of those “last times”.

I will miss this.

Photo source: Thinkstock

About the author

Chris Jordan

http://notesfromthetrenches.com
Chris Jordan began blogging at Notes From the Trenches in 2004 where she writes about her life raising her children in Austin, Texas.

Oh, she has seven of them. Yes, children.

Yes, they are all hers.

No she's not Catholic or Mormon. Though she wouldn’t mind having a sister-wife because holy hell the laundry never stops.

Yes, she finally figured out what causes it. That's why her youngest is almost 6.

Yes, she has a television.

She enjoys referring to herself in the third person.

If you would like to submit a question for Chris to answer publicly, please do so to adviceforparentsoftweens[at]gmail[dot]com.


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22 Responses to “The Last Time”

  1. jL Apr 18 at 12:31 pm Reply Reply

    This made me cry. I hate how fast life goes after you have kids.

  2. Amy Apr 18 at 12:32 pm Reply Reply

    Oh Chris, this is beautiful. It brought tears to my eyes, and my son is only 6 months old! Already I can count the lasts, and they are so, so bittersweet. How lucky we are to have these little people in our lives.

  3. traceyclark Apr 18 at 1:51 pm Reply Reply

    bawling over here like a baby. thank you for this sweet, tender and OH SO TRUE story. i have an 8yo and a 14yo so this resonates so much. loved your perspective on the lasts. sniff sniff.

  4. Jessica New Apr 18 at 4:13 pm Reply Reply

    Amazing Writing! Thank you for sharing. Motherhood can be so heartbreaking.

  5. Cindy Goodman Apr 18 at 4:34 pm Reply Reply

    I am two years away from my oldest leaving for college and I miss her already. Isn’t that crazy? I think about how fast the time goes and I try to treasure every moment, even when we’re arguing. Like you, I particularly like listening when my kids talk to each other and wonder if theyare cherishing the moment as much as I am.

  6. Steve Apr 18 at 4:37 pm Reply Reply

    What a beautiful post. Our first LO will be coming this July and this already has me feeling nostalgic. Thanks for the reminder to treasure every moment.

  7. Lisa Apr 18 at 6:36 pm Reply Reply

    Beautiful, Chris. I was just asking my husband last night… is it possible that our youngest is the cutest and just keeps getting cuter? Or am I just nostalgic for those “lasts”? I think it’s the latter but I’m clinging to the former!!

  8. Ann from St. Peter MN Apr 19 at 9:44 am Reply Reply

    Oh! How true all of this is! I recently became an empty nester… I know our goal as parents is to raise capable, responsible adults, but geez – I miss them both so much. I get choked up every time I hear Trace Adkins sing “You’re Gonna Miss This” because I relate to it so well. And it sucks cooking for one (just saying).

  9. Lisa Apr 19 at 12:28 pm Reply Reply

    As my youngest just turned one, and has hit the last of her first holidays, this hit home.  My oldest is turning 3, and already there are too many lasts.

    Thank you.

  10. Erin Christine Apr 20 at 9:35 am Reply Reply

    Chris, you are so incredibly eloquent! I treasure these posts of yours – they always strike a chord and make me feel nostalgic, and yes, I get misty-eyed. I am thinking about the relationships within my family and how blessed I feel to have them…it is a beautiful thing. Thank you for this.

  11. gorillabuns Apr 20 at 10:05 am Reply Reply

    So beautifully written and quite haunting in the same breath. You are so right, you never realize there are a lot of lasts that you didn’t know were going to be lasts. I’d like quite a few do-overs so I can live in the moment and cherish those last moments, hugs, kisses and laughs.

  12. Shelley Apr 20 at 4:29 pm Reply Reply

    I know exactly what you mean. My oldest daughter just turned 20, and the other two are 17 and 9. Sometimes I get to still do little kid stuff with my 9 year old. Sometimes I still even help her get dressed, because she’s the baby. But my God, my oldest just turned 20. 20! Where the hell did 20 years go?

  13. {sue} Apr 20 at 4:37 pm Reply Reply

    Oh gah. I didn’t even get to the end yet and I’m crying. Sometimes I feel like my days are full of lasts. (To counterbalance all those days fillled with firsts, I guess.)

    We did have Baby’s First Behavior Referral yesterday though. There’s that.

    Beautiful, as usual, Chris.

  14. Ruth H Apr 20 at 8:48 pm Reply Reply

    Yesterday I spoke with my grandson. He lamented that his twin babies were not walking yet. I can understand that, they are late walkers, but he has no idea how fast the time will fly. There is no way to understand until you’ve actually been there.
    You wrote this so well and it is so true. I can’t believe I’ve been reading you since Big Yellow House. You’ve grown up too~!!!

  15. Heather's Garden Apr 21 at 12:21 am Reply Reply

    My babies will be 22 and 26 this summer. I love the lasts — the last college tuition payment. The last time I have to move the youngest home from college (seriously the in and out of the same carload and a half of stuff every year!). The last time I have to gently remind one of them to job search. And there are still so many firsts to look forward to…the first time I watch one of them wait for their bride to walk down the aisle to them or the first time I hold a grandchild. I’m not looking forward to the first time one of them moves out of state, but I’m sure it will happen. I loved when they were little, but i love the men they are now more!

  16. Jen Apr 21 at 5:14 pm Reply Reply

    I’m learning all to well how fast it goes. Our daughter will be two in one week, but it seems like she was a newborn just the other day. Before I know it there will be school, and dating, and driving. That terrifies me!

  17. kolimom Apr 21 at 8:27 pm Reply Reply

    You might come off tough sometimes but yet when you write these stories you are writing from the heart and I can’t help but cry when I read them. The birthday pages you wrote always made me cry!

  18. MommaFergie Apr 25 at 12:10 am Reply Reply

    Pulled some socks out of my purse just today… Thanks for making me smile and reminding me to cherish every moment of it.

  19. Lisa May 06 at 10:20 pm Reply Reply

    Oh my,does this hit home for me. I’ve been doing the “lasts” all year. It’s our youngest son’s senior year. All year long, I’ve watched the last time he’d play football on the field, the last prom, the last “senior night” at track, the last time he’d run on the track, and in two weeks, his high school graduation. My filling out of public school papers is over. My job as a mom, for all intents and purposes, is over.

    He’s 18. He’s a man. And he’s so ready to fly. I was preparing for his grad party and found an empty nest perched on our porch. I cried and cried….And yet, this is better than a failure to launch. I’m trying to conteract all my “last tears” with “new beginning” smiles….But it’s hard, so hard….Dropping him off at college in two months, even though I did it with my older son, will be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Harder than watching him not turn around at all when I dropped him off at kindergarten. Harder than kissing his hurts. Harder than all the football games, track meets, soccer games, dance pictures, lunch making, driver’s license getting…. all of it…because they truly will no longer need us in the same way…They still come back. They still need their mom. I’m finding that out. But they no longer need permission slips to do something. In fact, I need a permission slip from THEM to OBTAIN information, medical, or grades…..Parenthood is not for wimps….

  20. Lisa Sep 25 at 3:02 pm Reply Reply

    sniff**sniff** Today is my oldest sons 18th birthday….a lot of last times behind us. I do not know why today has been so hard on me…I got everybody off to school and back to sulk in memories, in bed all day…What????

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  1. Why I’ll Need 14 Boxes of Tissues During Tonight’s “Glee” : misszoot.com - Apr 24

    [...] read what Chris wrote at AlphaMom last week and nearly lost my shit. Yvonne is counting down the days left with her son [...]

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