Dear Youngest Child,
It hit me the other day as we were driving down the road and I was asking your older sister about driving classes, that you would be right behind her. There has been a long stretch of time when your “firsts” brought me comfort at each of your brother’s and sister’s lasts.
His last day of elementary school was hard, but knowing you, and therefore I, still had a few years left helped. When your sister went to her first dance and seemed so grown up, I was eased knowing you still had a few years left before you had a social life that took you away from me at night.
We are in the home stretch
We are in the home stretch. And while five years probably feels like a lifetime for you, I am hyper-aware of how fast it will fly by.
In fact, it was eleven years ago when we were sitting at the school Harvest Supper and I remember thinking how happy I was and how I didn’t want those years to end. You were sitting on my lap eating apple crisp, and I thought, Jack is only two. We still have so much time. We still have so many dinners. We still have so many years that they will all believe in Santa Clause.
When you have a baby you don’t believe they will grow up
The truth is, when you have a baby you kind of think yours won’t actually grow up. You feel like they will be tiny and living with you forever because you can’t imagine it any other way.
But that’s not how it happens. And it doesn’t feel like a gradual process either.
It feels like one day you are small and the next I’m looking at you in the rearview mirror thinking about signing you up to take driving classes.
It feels like a sting that can’t be soothed and an itch that can’t be scratched. It feels like my heart is open and time is running out. That comforting voice that used to tell me I still had so much time with you in my four walls, all safe and sound is gone.
We are running out of time
The truth is, I don’t have time. This is your last year of middle school and I know what will happen this year and the next because I’ve seen it twice already.
You will find your circle and be home less often. You will fight me on every rule and try and push every boundary. You will think about your future and so will I.
I will watch you grow and eat all the food and test out all the behavior.
You will sleep a lot and not want to be seen with your mother. You will ignore my advice. This is it-this is where we will part ways. You will come home late and argue with any brakes I try to put on your behavior. And I will lose sleep and worry, all the time.
Our parting will look like you gaining independence and me hoping with all my being I am showing you how to do life right. It will look like me trying to fit it all in and holding on to you a little tighter.
You will pull away
I know you will pull away. Maybe more this coming year than ever before.
I will watch you feel conflicted over not really being a kid any longer, but not being an adult either. I will try to help but probably won’t do it right.
You are my youngest; my last hurrah. I want to take these years with you and do the best I can–the best we can.
I’m not sure how I am going to do it though so, I’m asking now for some grace and patience from you. You see, I’ve always had you to fall back on. I’ve always been able to say I still have so much time with Jack.
Now, I feel it slipping away.
Please understand these things about mom
Please know I will do my best not to mourn too much and just enjoy the fact my youngest is growing up as much as I can.
Please know I am so glad I’ve always had you in the back of my head when it seems like your brother and sister are growing up too fast and I just want them to stop already.
Please know you are my bright light and I am looking forward to having some time with just the two of us.
And please know that I’m going to cry a lot. Our relationship will change quite a bit in the coming years. Some parts will be better, and some will be worse.
So, if you catch me looking at you in the rear view mirror a little more often please try not to roll your eyes at me too much, okay?
More to Read:
I’m Keeping My Teens at Home and I’m Exhausted But Home They Will Stay Here is how Katie Bingham Smith describes her decision to keep her kinds at home this fall.