Tuesday, May 16, 2006

a truck full of doctors and presidents and teachers...

Today's blog is written by my writer-friend Staci Wilder. You can find out more about Staci here.

a truck full of doctors and presidents and teachers...
by Stacy Wilder

"It's not only children who grow. Parents do too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can't tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it, myself."
---Joyce Maynard

This morning marked yet another milestone in my role as a mother.

It's become a summer tradition among our sons and their friends, this annual trek to Six Flags. For several years now, Nathan and Jordan and their current "posse" have been loading into our car for the 45 minute drive to the amusement park. The first year, maybe even the second, was tough as I wrestled long and hard with those questions that only a mother understands. Are they old enough for a day on their own with friends? What if they get hurt - and I'm an hour away? What if they lose their money...or it gets stolen?...or gets wet on the water rides?

The list of 'what ifs' is endless and so are a mom's worries. Fortunately these worries have a way of, maybe not lessening, but at least taking their proper spot in our framework of likely anxieties as the years pass and the kids grow older. By last year I felt like an old pro. The Suburban was alive with laughter and animation as we made the drive. I was content to quietly listen as I drove, all but obscure behind my sunglasses and apparent (or so they thought) disinterest in the various threads of conversation wafting my way. When they hopped out of the truck I was able to smile, wish them a great day then make the long drive back home, knowing that a quiet house and a full twelve hours of uninterrupted bliss awaited me.

And that's how today should be. Here I am, back home, enjoying Hour Two of the bliss and what am I doing? Yep, I'm blogging about the sentimentality that's choking me, reminding me of how quickly the years are passing and that, instead of mothering two little boys, I'm now a mom to two young men who are knocking on the door of adulthood.

They really wanted to drive themselves today. That's been obvious for days, but (typical mom-style) I've conveniently "played dumb". Sure they could have done it. Not only are Nate and Jordan both driving now, but so are several of their friends. But that's not the point.

Somehow, without me even being consciously aware of it, I've come to look forward to this day. Noisy as it can get...as smelly as the ride home with boys can sometimes be...as far as it is (two ways)...and the long list of things I could, or should, be doing...

It doesn't matter. I love to listen to the thoughts and opinions and the way they "lay it all out there", not afraid to make themselves vulnerable to one another. Yes, they are teenagers and have an entire mass of issues and dilemmas of their own to deal with. But there is also still an innocence about them. They've not yet lived long enough to grow jaded about life. It's still one big adventure and they very much feel like they are buckled in for the ride of their lives.

And they are. As I listened in this morning, knowing that next year I'm going to have to fade into the woodwork and let them have their day "mom-free", I let my mind drift ahead a few years and wondered what the lives of these eight kids would be like then. Would there be a doctor in the group? Maybe an attorney, or a few teachers? Graphic artists, sportscasters, or...hey, a writer? I hid my smile as the possibilities seemed to roll out as far as the freeway in front of me. These kids truly are on the ride of their lives. And I'm honored to be at the starting station as this roller coaster of their life pulls out. They have a lot in front of them. Some of it tough, but most of it exciting.

As they climbed out of my SUV this morning I smiled, waved, and hid my tears behind the dark sunglasses. As unobtrusively as I could, I slipped an extra $20 to each of my own kids. One last time. They smile but don't say anything. They don't have to. They know I love them. And they love me. That's why they "gave" me today - an opportunity to witness again the magic of being young and having your entire life just waiting for you to reach out and make it your own.

Today they are sixteen and seventeen years old but in just a few years they'll be the leaders of this country, the doctors providing treatment and the teachers molding the generation that will follow them.

Thank you, Nathan and Jordan, for today. And thank you Jeran, Gary, the two Drews, Steve Lah, and Dwight - for the pleasure of your company, the joy of your conversation, and for the memories of this annual trek to Six Flags.

It means everything to this mom.


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