I was skimming Facebook today- because I’m on vacation and that’s what you do when you don’t have to wake up to an alarm, right? Sitting in my daughter’s college apartment, I saw a post from a mom who was at the beach with her three young children. It was a shot like many I take when I’m enjoying the moment– legs stretched out, book balanced on her lap, sand and surf and the horizon in the background. Her caption made me laugh: “I’m reading a book on the beach with my boys. No floaties or crying or buckets or arguing over sunscreen. I’ve dreamed of days like this”.
Funny how time works, isn’t it? I remember feeling that way, too. I remember ticking off the milestone ages in my head, dreaming about this little tiny, often crying, baby girl I was holding, wondering how she would ever grow up and grow away from home – and away from me.
Just below hers was another post from a dear friend, frantically traveling to see her father before he passes.
She didn’t make it in time.
She shared a simple photo of her with him, no caption, just the two of them smiling and hugging. I saw her son in father’s face. I wanted to wrap my arms around her, let her know that on this day that we dream of and dread I’m here for her.
That’s the thing about motherhood, and growing up, and growing old. The years pass, time trickling by whether we know it or not – whether we document the moments or wish them away.
I wear a silver cuff around my right wrist- actually several, one for each of the years that my motherhood has shifted.
They’re instead of a tattoo. My mother is much happier this way.
Engraved with my mantra for the year, Be Here Now, it’s my daily reminder to stop and pay attention. To look up at the sky and down at the shadows. To notice what is right here instead of worrying about what is ahead or what I’ve left behind.
Not to regret or second guess or future trip.
Just before I left on vacation, my son reminded me that he’s almost the same age my daughter was when she went off to college. He still has one more year at home.
I reminded him she was actually six months older, and he scoffed. I smiled. Those six months between 17 and 18 can make a huge difference.
Or is age only a number?
I’m not sure how old the woman’s children were as she lay on that beach, coveting her quiet time.
I know my friend is in her thirties- too young to lose a father she adored, so many years ahead to parent without his guidance.
This vacation is all about soaking in my daughter’s life – her friends, her lifestyle, her new home. I breathed deeply as she, for the first time, order a glass of sangria last night. It was her first ‘official’ drink with me since she turned 21. Sitting at an outdoor cafe, we were enjoying a warm Salt Lake City evening just after she finished her volunteer job.
Of course, she got carded- and as the waitress scrutinized her ID I couldn’t help blurting out “It’s legit! I’m her mom. She just turned 21. She was born June 2 1996 at 11:37…”
Wait-where did that come from?
The waitress just laughed as my daughter wryly smiled. Maybe she’s used to my obsession with her growing up; I’m not sure.
She sipped her sangria slowly as we ate. “I’m enjoying it,” she quipped at her boyfriend as he teased her deliberateness. I noticed her carefully spoon out the alcohol-soaked fruit, enjoying every last bit.
She was here. Now. And so was I.
I wasn’t with her the moment she actually turned 21. She was somewhere in the mountains of South America, surrounded by friends and coffee farms, hiking and laughing and enjoying life. It wasn’t exactly how I imagined this milestone- sort of like most every parenting moment I’ve had, actually.
I’ve dreamed of days like this, I’m sure. I’ve wished they wouldn’t come at strongly as I wished they would. I’ve held onto her hand and let her go more times than I ever thought possible.
I know that age is only a number, that turning 51 and 21 really just mark the moments we have lived, milestones of memories and not anything to fear.
I know that if I can just be here, now, that age is only a number on a day and what matters are the ordinary, extraordinary memories in each one.
Don’t you agree age is only a number?