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Entries in being a mom (1)


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!