Ready or Not

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This past weekend I watched my eldest child get ready for her senior prom. A friend of ours came to the house and spent several hours on her hair and makeup, then my daughter put on her dress, her sparkly jewelry, and her fancy silver high heels. Our friend put “pixie dust” on her shoulders, hair, and back, and she looked just beautiful…and grown up.

It’s that grown-up part I didn’t like . Because that signals to me that changes are coming, ready or not. Pretty soon she’ll graduate from high school, then before we know it she’ll be off to college. And those changes are not going to be easy.

Here’s what I was thinking while she got ready for her big night:

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I hate those movies where the mom is going through some crisis and pictures of her children’s lives flicker through her mind in bits and pieces. You know what? That actually happened to me. I pictured her learning to walk on our street in New York City, at her nursery school graduation, her first race on the swim team, those days when she wouldn’t let me brush her hair.

I thought I wouldn’t have a hard time. I thought I’d watch her go off to the prom, then the rest of us would have dinner, then it would just be a typical Saturday evening. But I was in a funk all weekend. My husband kept asking me, “What’s wrong?” And at first I didn’t know, but eventually I realized that it was because something was different- someone wasn’t home and that’s going to be the new normal in just a few fleeting months (actually, my son was away all weekend on a camping trip, too, but he’s got several more years at home). And here’s something weird- just hours after the prom started, I went to bed and I dreamed about my daughter as a baby. I hadn’t done that in years.

I was driving on Sunday, listening to the radio, and Spandau Ballet’s song “Time” came on. I almost lost it. But then I pictured the headlines in my mind (“Prom Mom, Distraught Over Song on Radio, Flips Car on Garden State Parkway”) and managed to keep it all together. But I started to worry- what if “Safe and Sound” by Capital Cities comes on? What if “Changes” by David Bowie comes on? I couldn’t bear the thought of it, so I turned the radio off.

Am I doomed to keep the radio off for the rest of my life?

Thought it might stay off for a while, I doubt it will be forever. Because we all survive these changes. If there’s one thing that gives me comfort, it’s this: millions upon millions of parents all over the world have had these exact same thoughts for centuries – probably longer – including, I suspect, my own parents. And everyone turns out fine. Life goes on. It’s not easy at first, as I’m beginning to learn, but I will eventually get used to the new normal. And by the time I get used to it, my younger daughter will be ready to graduate…. then my son… but let’s not go there now.

I used to worry that if I remained a stay-at-home mother forever, what would happen when all my kids went off to college, then careers, then homes of their own? What would I do with myself? I knew I didn’t want to practice law again. And that’s part of the beauty of writing. I hope I can do it forever. I work at it full-time now, so I’ll continue to throw myself into it during all the changes that will be taking place over the coming months and years. And writing is already helping me through the transitions, because they’re starting, ready or not.

Until next week,

Amy

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18 comments on “Ready or Not

  1. macjam47 says:

    Your daughter is beautiful and is very lucky to have a mom who cares so much. It is just as hard to send each child off as it was the first. We love each of our children equally, but differently, and likewise, sending each off to enjoy their new freedoms, friends, and responsibilities is just as painful but different for each child. Your walk down that path has just begun. Hugs, my friend.

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    • amreade says:

      Michelle, your comment was beautiful. Our children couldn’t be more different from each other and each of their paths will be unique, but we look forward to what awaits them! Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving those encouraging words. Hugs to you, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. dgkaye says:

    This was a beautiful and nostalgic post Amy. I almost needed a tissue, so I can imagine how you are feeling.
    The hardest part is letting go . . . isn’t that a song too?
    Chin up Amy, ready or not. 🙂

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  3. lindamthorne says:

    What a nice post. I enjoyed it and read most of the comments made by people you know. Good going with this one.

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  4. Such a heartfelt post, Amy. I don’t have kids but feel the same way about my nieces and nephews (and now grandnieces and grandnephews). Life flies by so fast, and all we can do is try to keep up. Congratulations to your daughter for her impending launch into the big world. I’m sure you’ve prepared her well.

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    • amreade says:

      Hi Brenda, thanks for visiting today. It’s true- you don’t have to have your own kids to feel sad when changes take place. I’m already feeling sad for my sister and her husband, whose older child (my niece) won’t go off to college for another five years (same as my youngest). The best we can do is hope these kids are prepared. I know my daughter is ready. What a wild ride!

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  5. Beautiful and humorous. It is hard, isn’t it. Wait until you drop them off at college! Bring a big box of tissues. What until your kids become parents (that will blow your mind, trust me!) But it’s wonderful to raise children who become independent adults; that’s what we’re supposed to do; it’s our greatest gift to the world 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • amreade says:

      Oh my gosh, I can’t even think about dropping her off at college yet. That will be a hard day. But I remember dropping her off at nursery school- I expected her to cry, but she walked right in and loved it from the first day. I confess to feeling a teensy bit down because she didn’t even seem to miss me, but I also recognize that I prepared her well. Now I hope that same thing happens in August. Hopefully it will be harder on me than it is on her.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh dear. I’m crying. And my little girl went to her prom 15 years ago! You write about how we moms react perfectly. I had to laugh at you driving the car, listening to the radio. Well, you know what? If the right (wrong?) song comes on that reminds me of my babies (who now have their own babies), I STILL cry. In the car. And then I turn off the radio. xoxo

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  7. Good Morning Amy,

    At 5:30 this morning I was sitting on my front porch reading your blog. My eyes filled with tears. I remember those days oh so well. I raised boys, but rest assured you will experience the same feelings with your son.

    And life goes on. But, my friend, you might as well turn that radio back on because the flashes never stop. That new norm, to use a phrase I don’t normally use…. It AINT gonna happen. The changes will come fast and furious.

    What comes to mind, is the birth of my first granddaughter, I lived in FL and my son in NY. I was driving across a bridge in Tampa Bay, lots of water on both sides… LOL (I can laugh now). Remember, I have 3 sons…. My cell phone rings, and he says, “Hi mama, how do you feel about having your first granddaughter?” Well, as you can imagine, I lost it…. I was crying so hard, I could barely see… My headlines, “crazy grandma drives into Tampa Bay, unexplained crying!” Obviously, I made it to the end of the bridge where I was able to pull over and stop for a few minutes.

    As time goes on, you will find that the flashes will make you smile, they do me and when I hear about my younger friends, like you, experiencing these feelings, I smile and (sometimes shed a few tears for them, happy tears that is).

    So in closing, remember to enjoy those old flashes because you have plenty of new ones coming your way! And the good thing, your children will become adults and they will always be your kids, but your best friends as well.

    Have a wonderful day! And As Always, “Keep Reading and Writing!”

    Sharon

    Liked by 1 person

    • amreade says:

      My crying jag last night definitely wasn’t happy tears, but I know they’ll be happy tears someday. Your story about the Tampa Bay bridge made me laugh out loud! I can just picture it. Thanks for the smiles today!

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