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« Once Upon a Midnight Dreary... | Main | Making the Ordinary Extraordinary »

The Finish Line: It just keeps moving

I remember now. I had a life once. I did, I just can’t quite recall where I left it. I must have put it down somewhere when I became busy doing something else, like giving birth to my first child. I guess I became distracted ... I remember being engrossed with trying to figure how to put that stroller into the back of the car and making sure I had packed enough diapers, bottles and extra clothing for those inevitable little mishaps, and all for just for an afternoon’s outing at the park. The next thing you know I’m packing that child’s things for University and making sure he has a two week’s supply of clothing before he needs to do any laundry.

Looking back now, I have a feeling that somewhere along the line when I was dealing with those truly important issues, like making Halloween costumes and using face paint instead of masks to create elaborate “oh-boy-oh-boy-no-one-is-going-to-recognize-me” disguises, like making up songs to help memorize the multiplication tables that were sung everywhere even while checking out groceries, like whether to read ‘Where The Wild Things Are’ for the fourth time before bedtime or have a third go with ‘I Love You Forever’  (remembering of course, to always use different voices for each of the characters), like baking hundreds and hundreds of cookies, cupcakes and dragon birthday cakes, like driving to Tai Kwan Do classes after the Clarinet lessons and just before the soccer match and still managing a warm dinner on the table in twenty minutes flat after getting home, like making sure broccoli looked mouth-watering and even convincing the unconverted that spinach would indeed make you strong (just go ask Popeye!), like constantly reminding everyone right before the morning school run not to forget anything only to find forgotten homework left by cereal bowls or gym kits left inside the front door, like quickly making a second morning school run to deliver those important forgotten items to their relieved owners, like making sure never to miss a recital, sports event or school play … yep, somewhere in all that I must have inadvertently stuffed what remained of my life into the bottom of my handbag. Well, we know what that means; I’ll probably find it years from now along with a packet of dried up wet wipes, some dusty gummy bears and a few stale mints.

I’m reflecting on all this because at the end of our summer holiday, I boarded a plane with all of my most precious baggage, except one. It felt odd; I had a gnawing sensation that something was missing, like an arm or a piece of my heart. I was so tempted to leave my seat and head straight for the exit door insisting that I had to get off that I couldn’t go home yet because I had left something irreplaceable behind and we just could not take off without it! But instead, not wanting to embarrass my family I stayed quiet in my seat, gripping my armrest ever tighter knowing that a huge hunk of my heart was sitting on that tarmac as the plane took off.

 “Was it just me, or was it the worst feeling to board a plane and leave your child on another continent?” a good friend asked me a week later who had made a similar trip the year before.

I was relieved to hear that I was not the only one. I didn’t tell her how close I came to being banned from an airline but I bet she too thought about stopping the plane. Just when exactly, did overnight stays turn into a four year sleepover? And when did that finish line get so close?  Someone surely must have moved it nearer when I wasn’t looking.

There are some of you reading this who can appreciate my astonishment at how that finish line came up so quickly. There are others reading this who see that finish line so far off in the distance they are convinced it will be a lifetime before they ever get there. Feeling somewhat qualified now, I can honestly tell you the reality is that finish line is not so far away; it just seems like it is. One day they need Halloween costumes and then all of a sudden they need graduation gowns. Well, actually, it’s not all of a sudden it just seems like it is.

So, seemingly without warning, laundry piles have shrunk, the refrigerator doesn’t empty so quickly, you can actually find cereal in the box, there are less pairs of gargantuan sized sports shoes loitering by the entrance door, no more late nights pretending to be asleep while waiting to hear that familiar rhythm of feet run up the stairs two at a time, no more goofy grins hello or head-grazing kisses goodbye.

And then suddenly, while pondering in disbelief at abruptly finding yourself at the end zone, you just happen to get a phone call from a dorm room an ocean away and you are soon made aware that perhaps you haven’t reached that finish line just yet. Thank you, to whoever keeps moving it.

Oh, and guess what? I just remembered where I left my life; like most things we think we’ve lost, it was under my nose all along!

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Reader Comments (8)


I found you via BYW. Your blog name intrigued me, since I am a writer, too. I love your blog. It's so pretty and imaginative. This journal entry particularly struck a chord with me because my kids are young (ages 3 and 5) and I try to remember to cherish all the simple things with them now when they are little and want to do everything with me. I enjoy them so much but sometimes it is so exhausting. And then, I remember how quick time goes. It does seem like not long ago when I was still nursing them or carrying them around in my sling. So then I focus on the moment, trying to absorb as much as I can and commit to memory just what it feels like to have a three-year-old wrap her arms tightly around me and plant a big wet kiss on my cheek, all for doing something as simple as reading a book or smiling at her. Life doesn't get much simpler than that. Thank you for sharing so much and reminding those of us with little ones around that these years indeed go by quickly and, when it comes to it, we don't really want a finish line.

September 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMinnie

I remember when my eldest was on the threshold of becoming a teenager, bounding into the kitchen one day with soccer ball in one hand, grabbing a snack with his other his voice trailing behind him as he whirl-winded out with a "love ya mom, see you later", that I was struck with how quickly he had grown. I certainly couldn't pick him up in my arms anymore and I couldn't remember when the last time was that I did that or even when was the last time I read to him at bedtime. These were such normal everyday occurrences and one doesn't normally stop to think about them, yet as I was still doing these things with his younger brother, I was dumbfounded that couldn't remember exactly when had I stopped doing such things with him! Suddenly, I was overcome with a combination of tenderness and melancholy for that little boy in him that I was losing and that promising young man that was emerging. I am certain that whenever it was that it happened, I didn't know it was going to be the last time that I would scoop him up in my arms and carry him to bed, nor that it was the last bedtime story shared when I closed that cover and returned the book to its shelf, but knowing myself I knew I had done these things cherishing every moment. So enjoy your moments with your children and delight in the daily routines; not only are you creating warm memories for them, you are also creating your own to relive and cherish when you feel that finish line getting closer. To paraphrase Erma Bombeck, when you feel yourself going from being a supervisor of your child's life to being a spectator, you too will wonder about 'last times'.

September 28, 2010 | Registered CommenterSoulScribbles

As someone not quite there yet but seeing it nearing on the horizon, I can feel my heart yelling 'NO' and yet I also cherish the growth, the change, the development and the blossoming. Why does nobody warn you of this hardest of jobs of Motherhood - that by succeeding in your purpose - you are causing yourself pain. I am hoping if I practise now I might have perfected the brave smile in another five years.....and finding my life again might be a nice compensation :D

September 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMousy Brown

Hi! I an sooo happy you are back. You know I love to read what you write!
I can feel everything again. I've been through all that. At least that took a little longer with my second and third who decided to study in the State University and could travel from home. My older son went to New York. From a very busy life with three sons practicing sports in school and out of it I went to a very lonely one. It was so difficult but then I learned to embrace each moment and enjoy their journey. And them, in a blink of an eye they were graduated, and in a few years I became a grandma. Now I am in the busiest life I've ever imagined. I have to travel a lot to see my first grandson. Thanks to Skype I can manage to make bonding with him. I still have a son with me and I still can't get used to have an emty house and be an expectator instead of a supervisor. I love family gatherings and since they don't live here I enjoy them even more!.
I always tell other moms to enjoy every moment with their children. I am happy I did enjoy them each moment I can be with them!!

September 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth

Oh, my dear friend the Soul Scribbler, you have done me in today. Reading your blog brought back such sharp memories of that day in October 1991 when we left one contintent to live on another AND left both our sons (19 and 21) behind. They we ready for us to leave but I was not ready to stop mothering! When we returned a decade later they were wonderful men and we are so proud of them and their accomplishments. Even recently when they visited us in another city for Christmas, I could not help think that my whole world was driving home in that vehicle. Today, we have three precious grandchildren and I am so fortunate to be in their city and spend as much time with all of them as they please. I have learned to "let go" but thankfully they have learned to hang on. And so the world goes 'round and 'round!

October 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPapillon

oh, my heart. yes, here is my life right under my nose. in the finding of the library books, the helping spell words x 100a day, the figuring out halloween costumes & readying the perfect snack for share day. it is here. it is beautiful. thank you for reminding me to cherish these years well & that that finish line is wonderfully movable.

October 4, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterlove

Hello. Thank you for the comment on my "perfect protest". I am so happy to have found your blog, and to have stumbled upon this post. My one and only started high school last month, and I am in the grips of a huge transition in parenting, in couplehood, and in selfhood. I can feel the major shifts underfoot, and while I'm not hanging on too tightly I am often quite sad at the things that must be let go. Five years ago if you told me I would miss soaking the grass stains out of those white baseball pants I would have thought you were crazy. I know all too well those days are numbered, so I'm loving every dusty dirty pair that comes my way.
Your words and images are truly beautiful. If this is imperfection, I'll have what you're having . . .

October 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKathyB

Hi There ! Yup ..so you've done it again! I really felt that one. You're the best!!!! Love you, ....now pass the kleenex please! xxoooxxx

October 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLaurel

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