I had a delightful conversation with a three year old boy the other day. We were interested in one another’s T-shirts. My shirt says “puptown funk” and has a cute picture of a dog dressed up like Bruno Mars. His mom told me the boy kinda wanted to sing Uptown Funk for me. Then he got shy, at least about singing and dancing, but we started talking about his T-shirt. It said, in big block letters, “Education is important, but skiing is importanter.” I took that to mean he loved to ski, so I inquired. Turns out he loves to ski, especially at Squaw Valley, where his mom has a condo. We talked about the “magic carpet” that he uses at ski school to get up the hill. I told him my kids learned to ski before magic carpets were available, instead needing to use the chairlift. This little boy, Hap, knew all about chairlifts, too.
Then he asked me about my kids. “Your kids are grown up?” “Why?”
I said, “I don’t know!!! I tried to keep them little, I really did. But they grew up anyway.”
Why do they grow up? That’s like asking why do trees grow tall? Why does the sun rise in the east and set in the west? Everything, even the natural order of things, is up for question when you are only three.
Mother’s Day was just a few days away, it made me think about the passage of time and the growing up of children.
Did I receive adorable Mother’s Day cards from my three children when they were small? I certainly did. Did I appreciate them? Enough?
Children love their mothers. Then they grow up. Their lives become important and their post-college activities rarely require the involvement of mom. I wouldn’t want them to jump in my lap now and give me a hand-colored card detailing why they love me… or would I?
The love between mothers and children is often assymetrical. Either we love them too much or we love them too little. Likewise, they might love us unconditionally or they might find us old-fashioned and out of touch.
Why did they have to grow up? Because I needed to grow up as well. My sense of family has grown since they left home. I am thankful that each one has meaningful work and supportive friends. I am more able now to see them for the unique persons they are.
I am grateful that I am a mother to three amazing young adults. Their lives are their own, but they carry the imprint of our parenting, good or bad. I loved those golden years when they were small, and I love these golden years as well. But… why DID they have to grow up?