A mother who is really a mother is never free.
I have, in my office, a copy of the front cover from Provo City Parks and Recreation Activity Guide circa Fall,1996. On the cover is a photo of a cherubic-looking little blond boy about 3 or 4 years old swinging on a swing. He’s working hard to pump the swing into action on his own and you can tell that he’s working hard because his little tongue is sticking out of the corner of his mouth indicating his serious concentration. I’ve kept this cover for the past 13 and ½ years because the cherubic-looking little blond boy is (or was) my little Ebay.
I remember the day we got the activity guide in the mail. I don’t pay as much attention to them now, but at the time they were kind of important because they had all the information about signing kids up for swimming lessons and soccer and whatnot and my boys were at an age to be involved in that. So I was glad to see it in the mail when I came home from work that day. I can remember pulling it out from under an envelope and kind of doing a double-take. “Holy Cow – that’s Ebay!” I hollered. And we all gathered around the full cover color with the photo of our cute little cherubic-looking boy. Cherubic-looking is the optimum word there because between the ages of three and four Ebay was this adorable blond dimpled demon from the darkest deepest pits of ….well you get the idea. He was becoming very serious about independent thought and action at that time and whoa to any who thought to stand in his way – but he was awfully cute. Anyway his dad and I were alternately pleased and alarmed that our son was on the cover of this booklet that blanketed the homes of everyone in the city of Provo – especially since we had no earthly idea of where or when the photo had been taken. But with a few phone calls around we were soon able to figure out that Ebay had been at the park with Grandma several months before when the city photographer had come by and asked to take a few photos and mentioned that they might be published in the Fall edition of the city’s activity guide – an episode Grandma had neglected to mention to us - his parents. Anyway it was fun for us, although older brother Superdude was pretty green with envy as you can imagine. And as for Ebay himself…he really didn’t seem that impressed - that’s just kind of the way he was (and still is kind of).
I mention this today because I’ve been looking at this picture a lot lately. All of the family pictures I have up in my office are of my boys when they are little. Partially because of where I work – a junvenile detention center – it’s not very prudent to have family photos up for all to see. But all of the photos that I do have up are like the 1996 Provo City Cover – a blast from the past and the subjects are not easily identifiable as the grown up young men they are now. Ebay at 4 years old, Superdude during his 3rd grade read-a-thon complete with his Power Ranger pillow case and both little dudes at the Hogel Zoo, ages 6 and 9 respectively, staring at the backside of an elephant.
I’m guess I’m feeling nostalgic about these old photos of my boys when they were little because they just so aren’t anymore….little I mean. As I’m mentioned before, Superdude is 21 and just came home from his mission a couple of weeks ago. And Ebay is in the last months of his senior year in high school. I am enjoying them as young adults and hopeful and enthusiastic about their goals, but I find that I am really feeling the ground shift beneath my feet as the door closes on their childhood and a new one opens up to their future. A future where the place I have in their lives isn’t nearly what it used to be.
I read somewhere once that as a mother, when your children grow up and leave, they take your life with them. I think that’s true to some extent. I’m not morose enough to think that my life is over because my children are growing up. But my life as I’ve known it for the last 20 or so years is certainly over.
Now that I think about it though, we’re all kind of in the same boat , my boys and I. Their lives are about to shift and change and mine certainly is too. So maybe if we all keep rowing we can get to a place that we all want to go.