Humbled Parent: Time is not the enemy

By Carrie Fenn | Contributor

My last piece drew a lot of really nice comments. People took the time to text, email, stop me in the store, and, in one case, actually write a card and send it to my house to thank me. The writers and stoppers came from people with all ages of kids, but my favorite response came from the mom of a girl just entering high school. She read the piece right after her daughter got on the bus to CVU for the first time. She said a lot of beautiful things, but the line that really struck me was “Time is not the enemy.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

This week, I have seen so many Facebook posts about children heading off to new things— preschool, elementary school, middle school, college and beyond. There is a note of sadness in these posts—a sense of loss and the tragedy of things left behind. The preschool backpack now outgrown, the back turned at morning drop-off, the (sniff) empty bedroom. It’s as though something precious has passed us by and we can never get that back. All that we love and hold dear is encapsulated in this incredible being, and we can’t bear to lose this one thing that we have right now. I remember the moment I went into labor with my second child. I looked at my husband in despair—”I love our daughter so much!” I told him. I can’t love another child that much! What am I going to do?”

Well, I love that child as much. And I love the boy that came along eight years later as much. I love my beautiful stepdaughters. And, amazingly, I love the oldest child’s children more than I believed I could ever love anything. A four-year-old girl was the sweetest gift that has ever been bestowed upon me, until that little girl grew up and became my best friend. Time marches, it defies our wants, and surprisingly, it knows more than we do. It knows that we inevitably grow with our kids, and while the idea of losing them to kindergarten or college seems horribly unfair, by the time they reach those marks, we have (sort of) learned to let them go. They need us, but as they grow, they need us less and less. And as we grow as parents, we need them less and less.

I have now sent three kids off to college, and each time it was time. They went and didn’t look back. That’s hard. But I know it’s right. My middle child recently noted how all my kids are great at heading off without looking back. “It’s what you want, right? You know you’ve done a good job, right?” Right.

I recently did college tours with the two youngest, and I will admit it felt different. I choked up when I watched the baby (who is 5’11” by the way) strut to the front of the tour. I watched his head bob up and down as he took in the sites of campus, I watched his hand come up when he asked questions about housing and sports. I watched the tour guide chat with him about the filmmaking program. And I watched the “likes” rack up on his Facebook page when he added a picture of himself with the team mascot under the comment, “I found my school.” I even hit the thumbs up, offering my approval. It’s time, whether I am ready or not.