Yesterday I got to sit down with all of my kids and enjoy Toy Story 3. Although we've easily watched it twenty times before, the movie always holds our attention from start to finish. Camden watches me carefully to gauge when the tears start, and with each viewing, it happens earlier and earlier. This time I made it until the moment Andy's mom walks into his room and sees it bare for the first time. When she mutters "I wish I could always be with you," the waterworks really cranked up. I imagine myself as the mom from the commercial that shows her jumping in front of dodge balls as they are hurled at her child during P.E. I could totally be that mom.
One day they will go off to college. It will come sooner than I'm ready and faster than I realize. I'm already torn over my feelings for my kids' growing independence. Camden can now function fairly independently, picking out his own clothes and dressing himself and taking big kid showers. Bath time was always time to connect with the kids one-on-one, and now I've lost that with him. I know it's important for their development to learn to do things for themselves, though, and Hudson has now become my little project. I'm teaching him how to wash his hair thoroughly and stepping aside to let him bathe himself while I sit by and give suggestions. I've tried to make it kind of funny with lines like "don't forget your undercarriage" or "make sure you get the twig and berries." Hudson tends to be my most resistant to letting go of me, so making him laugh detracts from his protests and complaints.
Lawson will soon follow (and often does if he and Hudson are in the same room). Scout apparently was born an old soul with a very defined sense of self because it's been months since I was allowed to pick out her clothes or assist her with any kind of attire related tasks. I do enjoy watching her become a helpless diva when she's with her daddy, though, and I respond to his hapless looks of frustration with smug satisfaction, considering I brought up three Mama's boys.
My Aunt Dottie has two grown boys, and she tells me she has loved their teenage and young adult years. Considering how much I loved teaching my middle and high schoolers, I hope I'll feel the same way. Despite the fact that they'll need me less for physical tasks, I hope they will turn to me for help with their emotional needs. My relationship with my parents was very real, and I especially told my dad everything even when it hurt him to hear it. My goal is to foster the same kind of honesty and hope for the best.
My empty nest years will come like a snowball. The boys will head to college one after the next (ouch says my bank account), and Scout will follow a mere three years later. I'll probably cling to her with such unabashed attachment that she will hit the ground running the second her college acceptance letters arrive. In the meantime I'll try to stop sniffling quietly every time Camden mutters I embarrass him (seriously, isn't seven a little young for that?) and remember to be thankful for the times I can't sit down and eat my dinner because my kids are too small to reach the cabinet full of cups or dip a second helping from the stove without a stool to stand on. Pretty soon they'll live hours away like I do from my parents, and I'll be grateful simply to hear their voices on the other end of the phone line. That reminds me. I need to call my parents.
P.S. This is almost embarrassing to ask, but does anyone else feel guilty when they toss their kids' old toys? It's like I can imagine them crying dramatically like Barbie does when she's on her way to Sunnyside Daycare.