Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Countdown...What I've Learned

This evening, I was looking over my drafts, trying to decide what topic I wanted to write about next. None of them appealed to me and I felt as though my heart wasn't really into writing today. I'm just having an "off" day, and despite being bored and moody, I just can't bring myself to get excited about posting another story.

So, instead of forcing myself through my writer's block, I decided to go peruse my MySpace account, which has been thoroughly ignored for almost a full year.

The MySpace profile format has changed and I found myself unfamiliar with where things were located. I saw the tab titled "blog" and thought it was funny that I never took the time to post some of my thoughts on there, yet I have over 50 posts on here...but, I clicked on the tab, and to my surprise, there was an entry I had written 3 years ago about a milestone that has a very real significance tonight; the very last night that I will be the mother of a teenager; Justin will be 20 tomorrow.

The post is outdated, but every word to my children came from my heart and rings true to this day.

December 7, 2008

Many of you have known me for any length of time know that Jim and I have been blessed with four boys that have made our lives full and eventful, to say the least.
For many years, we have had the ongoing "family joke" that each boy was on a monthly countdown until they were "of age" when, as parents, we no longer needed to worry about the repercussions of their lapses in judgement and enjoy some of the freedoms we were not able to experience as we had become parents at an exceptionally young age.

After 25+ years of having parental responsibilities, we are now at the final 12 month countdown, which causes me to reflect....

Each son has had to endure the dreadful countdown...occasional references to the countdown would sometimes be met with sighs of longing (from parents and son alike), while other times the reference would be met with frustration, mostly from the son - somewhat hurt at the anticipation of the pending cutting of the apron strings.

James had his countdown first...he was the reason for starting the countdown! His was an expensive and a rather long countdown, lasting many, many, many months as he was our most challenging son. It's a miracle he even made it to his 18th birthday!...He has certainly gone through his struggles in his teens and early adult years, many of which I wasn't sure he would live through. Yet, he has managed to turn those personal struggles into triumphs and has become the man I knew him capable to be. He is becoming a strong and caring father and it gives me joy to see him experience his children's growth and milestones. James, know that you are loved.

Joshua had his countdown, too. When his countdown started, it had become more of a joke, a right of passage,  but one that he didn't find amusing. The frequency of the references were fewer and further in between as Joshua was an easy child; quiet, caring, compassionate. But rather than waiting for that countdown to run it's course, he decided to strike out into the world early, experiencing bumps and bruises along the way. Though the memories of those life lessons are painful to him to this day, I know he's a stronger, better man for having survived them and learning how to stand tall and strong. He has made me proud - as a soldier, father, and husband. As he faces the challenges of parenthood, I hope he realizes that sometimes parents have to allow for those lessons to allow for growth, parents learn from them too,and the love a parent feels for their child never lessens....Joshua, know that you are loved.

Jacob successfully reached his countdown without experiencing some of the pitfalls his brothers subjected themselves to. Running the course of his teen years, he occupied himself with school and extra-curricular activities which often did not lend themselves to my schedules or bank account...track meets scheduled during the workday, livestock competitions out of I wished I could have been witness to, but hope you know that I was there with you in my heart. Your countdown kinda snuck up on me... you never really gave me too many reasons to look forward to your countdown...but you made it, and in true Jacob form, managed to get yourself into trouble 3 days after your 18th, how you perplexed me! You are still discovering who you are and where you are destined to fit in this world. Yet, I know you to be wise beyond your years, philosophical beyond my understanding, and fully capable in discovering your way. I am proud of you. Jacob, know that you are loved.

And then there's Justin. My last countdown victim! In two short weeks, Justin will reach the ever-treasured 12 month countdown. As your brothers before you, you are struggling in your own right for your freedom and independence, battling with the need to make your own decisions while still needing and wanting the security of those apron strings from time to time. This seems to be the point where I have had the most difficulty with all of your brothers, and you as well. Despite the fact that we clash and have our battles of will, please know that I value you and am proud of the strengths you possess; you compassion and willingness to help others, your tenacity, and ability to make me laugh. My tendency to be harder on you at this time in your life truly stems from my love and concern for you based on the knowledge that you are allowing yourself to fall into some of the same paths of self-destruction traveled by your brothers. You are capable of great things...if you would only believe in yourself  as your father and I do. My hope is that you'll learn from the struggles your brothers endured and survived, choose the right path. Justin, know that you are loved.

My purpose for posting this blog is this: For many years I have longed for my own freedom, and now that it is upon me, I realize how truly lonely that freedom can be. This holiday season is the first in over 25 years where Jim and I have not had to focus on family and traditions, regardless of how untraditional they may have been - Thanksgiving dinner (steak and spaghetti) in the desert with our motorcycles, Christmas in the middle of nowhere in a motor home with a little wooden tree, personalized pumpkin pies, gift cards instead of presents for after Christmas shopping sales, jammies every year for Christmas Eve, Rocky Horror Picture Show on New Year's Eve with sparkling cider, special birthday dinners like mac-n-cheese and lasagna, driving cross country to visit family during the summer months collecting memories and bunnies along the way....

The prospect of not having the opportunity to make and preserve those memories hit me full force this year as I experienced my first Thanksgiving void of any of my of any schedules or expectations only left me feeling empty and sad... and even though I had your father beside me, as I have for 27 years now, I truly felt alone and desired to be surrounded by those who truly are the foundation in my life - my boys.
So, to my friends who have taken the time to read this, treasure the times you have with your children, take the time to make the memories and cherish them; love your children. Time is a thief, creeping up behind you and before you know it, your children move on, are having children of their own and you're left wondering where the time has gone and why you felt the need to count down the days until you had a little time for yourself.
To my boys....there will be days when I truly want and will relish those quiet moments to myself. But know this! Those quiet times are often spent thinking of you and of how much I love you all and am truly blessed to have been your mother. I'll never be too busy for a hug or a kiss, or an "I love you". My destiny in life was to be your mother and you are all gifts from heaven. I had my shortcomings, as all parents do, but when I leave this world, I hope you know that you were loved.

Always be confident in the fact that I love you all...always have, always will!

I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always
As long as I'm living, My babies you'll be.

<3 Mom

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