September. Can anyone believe it’s here?, asks
WAS it not only weeks ago we were suffering minor panic attacks at the thought of young children wanting to be entertained daily? Or dreading what our young teenagers would get up to during the long summer as they entertained themselves?
In the past week I’ve indulged the redundant mother in me, by watching parents bring their young children to school. New junior infants, dressed in their ample sized uniforms always tug at my heart as I remember, once upon a time, my own as little ones on their first day.
September is a month of beginning and endings for many of us. In my home, our eldest swears she’s moving out, two are beginning new jobs, one is back to college, and one raced into transition year without a book to her name.
As a stay-at-home young mother, I used to dream of this future, where I could go out without a babysitter, or at least go to the bathroom without a baby.
Over the years, we’ve passed many milestones, some, like starting school, were easily marked, but others took us by surprise. I recall one night in particular.
For years, we had left the landing light on at night, because every child knows having a light on guarantees no monster will creep into the bedroom. Every night, on my way to bed, I’d gently push open each bedroom door to place a kiss on a forehead, or relish a sleepy hug.
Over the years, one by one, the doors closed, until there was only one left. Our youngest’s. Then one night, without warning, I climbed the stairs in darkness. The landing light was off. The last door closed.
Just like that, we’d reached the end of an era.
Climbing into bed, I was heartbroken and cried bitter tears as I woke yer man to tell him my sorry tale. Perhaps I didn’t tell my sad story clearly enough. Or maybe he couldn’t understand me due to the amount of sniffling I was doing, because, as I stopped speaking, he nodded, patted my arm, closed his eyes and fell asleep.
However, as is the way with modern shared parenting, not many months later, he too faced a final moment.
It happened one morning as he walked our youngest to school. I watched as she skipped down the drive, holding his hand, lost in conversation.
Twenty minutes later he returned, head down, less than happy.
“She didn’t want to be seen with me near the school.”
My heart sank as I heard the disappointment in his voice. He’d been here before with our older children, but it was hard to imagine our youngest ever rejecting him. Now she too was cutting the umbilical parenting cord.
“Ah well, I had her a long time, I suppose,” he said.
It struck me as he spoke, of how often we speak of milestones from a mothers viewpoint, but here was a dad who had carried his children in his arms so often that my mother used to say, “For goodness’ sake that child has legs.”
A dad who kissed his children goodnight, no matter how late it was. Who never forgot to bring Friday sweets home. A dad who for 23 years had a small companion happy to walk alongside him.
As I smile and enjoy the sight of little ones on their way to school this past week, it is these and so many other moments I am reminded of.
If only we could turn back time. But really? If I could, would I?
The light at the end of the tunnel is within touching distance and I for one can’t wait to see what’s on the other side.