This summer has been a big one for me on a personal level. I’m very aware that what feels monumentally huge to me is, in reality, not a major crisis by any means. But it is a very clear sign that the next phase of life is upon me, like it or not.
My oldest landed herself a full-time job and took on the responsibility of renting a house with a roommate. She moved out in the late Spring just as my two college students were coming home. We went from four living in the house during the school to five over the summer. The two ducklings in college will leave in just about a week to head back to campus. Today, I was hit with a reality I hadn’t really thought of yet – we will be a family of 3 living in the house. The Laupp family hasn’t been that small since 1993!
As if that wasn’t enough, my baby turned 18 this summer. Yes, my youngest duckling is now a legal adult – a fact he takes great joy in reminding me of often! He will be a Senior in High School this year. That means that by this time next year, I will not be sending ANYONE to a K-12 educational institution. *gulp* Since 1996, the fall has meant that is was “back to school” time. My son – my baby – was born in 1996. When he graduates next Spring, life changes for us. After 19 years of sending kids back to school, they will either all be working full time or heading to college.
At times like this, I cannot help but wax nostalgic; maybe even a little teary eyed. As I think about the last 23 years when most of my energy and time was focused on being “Esther/Margaret/Janessa/Jay’s mom”, it’s strange to realize that the time is coming VERY SOON that I won’t be needed in that capacity as much. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve done what I think is a decent job of developing my own interests so that I won’t be at a total loss when they are all gone “for good.” But this “new normal” feels weird.
As I think back, I realize it’s the little things I’m going to miss.
It’s knowing that we will watch Anastasia and Swan Princess on every road trip. And there WILL be singing along. Guaranteed. Even in their late teens and early 20’s, this is the norm.
It’s the fact that they always requested food like pudding cups, animal crackers, fruit snack, and goldfish for their snacks on road trips. And they had better be animal CRACKERS not animal cookies. I only made that mistake once!
It’s knowing that my oldest and youngest daughters will pack nearly their ENTIRE wardrobe when going on a vacation because, as they say – “I don’t know what I’m going to want to wear!”
It’s the random quoting of movies at any given moment (consider yourselves warned!).
It’s the bursting into song – usually a musical theater number – inspired by the most random of statements.
It’s the annual trip to Cedar Point and always making sure we caught the ice show!
It’s the random imaginary worlds or completely off the wall stories they create all while laughing themselves silly.
It’s the random ponytail holders and bobby pins EVERYWHERE. (I’m pretty sure they multiply when we aren’t looking!)
It’s the informative conversations with my son about video games I understand pretty well now but have never played.
It’s knowing that mac and cheese MUST be served with hot dogs because . . . well, that’s just what we do!
It’s the stain from swing chains that I can never get out of a certain child’s clothing because . . . well . . . she still goes to the park swinging on a REGULAR basis.
No parent gets all the way through the experience of raising kids without wishing that life provided a few do-overs and I will be the first to say that I was FAR from a perfect parent. But I have been blessed to watch some creative, talented, imaginative, smart young people come out of my home and I could not be more humbled to know that I was chosen to be their mom. To my ducklings, “Love you Forever, Like you for Always”. To the moon and back.