My 12-year old son flew 2,700 miles across the country by himself today to visit his best friend’s family, a first. It didn’t hit me when I purchased the ticket months ago. It only mildly registered a few weeks ago when he held my hand in church and instead of it fitting comfortably inside mine, his enclosed mine. I couldn’t figure out why his size 10 shoes broke for no apparent reason last weekend until we tried on the replacement pair of 11s and they looked like they may not last the summer. Maybe I realized that we see eye to eye now, but I still feel taller. I vaguely remember commenting on all the recent texts from girls and the mysterious appearance of an unmistakable mustache.
But when I handed him his passport for today’s trip, that really knocked me over. I remember the day we took that picture. It was only three years ago. The passport is good for another two years, but I don’t see how it will pass by any self respecting Customs or TSA official. The photo is of a little boy with sun inspired freckles, a gap toothed grin and a head that hasn’t entirely caught up with his ears. Not this LA bound traveling man.
If your not a parent, there may be less obvious visual clues. I won’t risk sounding cliche. But, if it was a snake, it would have bit me. Why didn’t I see the writing on the wall? Time is moving at the speed of light. They grow up like that. (picture me snapping my fingers with a far off look in my moist eyes)
Seriously, I know it mentally. You would think that would be enough to make me act. It’s moments like today that make me feel like I am an expert sleep walker. I wrote out my road map for the next month as I practice my awareness. Before I mapped it out, I tried to objectively fill out an identity profile including likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses, etc. There emerged a pretty obvious pattern. First of all, “not being wasteful” was listed as one of my main values. Yet, I feel like I am frequently wasting time. Most everything I wanted to improve upon centered around time management: punctuality, being a good listener(i.e. being present), patience and following a more structured schedule.
Maybe its an excuse. I haven’t worked for someone else in seven years. When I owned my own business, my schedule changed daily, but even than I knew what I would be doing from 8am until the work was done. If you don’t “work outside the home” as my husband’s politically correct colleagues call it, you can easily fall into a reactive way of life. At least, I think that’s what happened to me since my daughter was born. I call it multi- tasking when I’m talking on the phone while cooking. But I probably caught less than half of what the person on the other end said and I treated cooking (which I listed as a “Like”) as a necessary chore. Don’t get me started on the lengths my kids have gone to in an effort to get me to look away from my computer. Am I the only one who frequently finds myself in one place while thinking about someplace else?
So after the drive home from the airport, I made a very detailed schedule for myself factoring in time alone, time to take our puppy to the dog park, time for work, time for my kids, time for lunch with friends. We will see how it works out. It gave me a sense of immediate relief and control just typing it out. If I change this schedule, at least that will require a conscious decision.
By the way, my son’s flight landed safely. It’s probably okay to be in one place while thinking of someplace else once in a while, right?
I leave you with this question for today: Is there some adult action you can take (like making a schedule) that will allow you to be more childlike?