Onward & Upward

It’s that time of year again where I get teary for no reason at the drop of a hat. Driving through the carpool line realizing my son will be going upstairs with the big kids next year at school. Seeing pictures of the sweet little four year old neighbor girl on Facebook who used to trick-or-treat at our house dressed like a fairy is now donning a cap and gown receiving her college diploma. 

My firstborn is heading to HIGH SCHOOL. How can this be? 

The clichéd sentiment of “where does the time go” is so real, it slaps me in the face like the stench of my growing boy’s sweaty baseball cleats. Hang on tight, Mamas, it’s that time of year.


I scrape and fish the dirty socks out from under a backpack that’s wedged in the corner of the room, careful not to grasp them with more than my thumb and forefinger in order to limit the surface area of my hand that’s contaminated. 

Next, without thinking, I grab an unidentifiable dark cloth-like mass off the floor and raise it to my nose to see if it needs to go in the basket with the other dirty clothes headed for the washer, and I’m bowled over by the shocking smell that knocks me upside the head. Stop with the sniff test, I berate myself. It never ends well.

I know I should make her bring down her own dirty clothes herself. And most times I do. But sometimes I just can’t take it anymore, and I physically cannot coexist under the same roof with those stinky socks. And for today, in the battle between me and my compulsion with the stinky socks, I am the loser.

But also, today, if I’m truly honest with myself, maybe it’s about more than cleaning up. Maybe I just want to be in her room. Maybe I just want to touch her things and be close to her when she’s not here, while she’s still an eighth grader. 

Maybe I just want to sit on her bed and have a peaceful, one-sided conversation with her without her accusing me of “not understanding.” I think of all the things I would say to her without the consequence of an eye-roll or a plea for me to leave.

I’d tell her she is beautiful, and not in an Instagram way, in a meaningful way. That she has a spirit and courage I didn’t have at her age for which I deeply admire her. That I’m proud of her for leaving a place where she’s doing well, is comfortable, and has friends to sit with at lunch to charge out into the unknown because she’s confident there’s more out in the world for her. 

I’d tell her that although she may be swallowing down butterflies the day she walks into her new high school, she’ll soon be among friends in the lunch room, on the football field, and on the stage, doing all the things that she loves.

Would she listen? Does she ever?

As I schlep her dirty clothes into the basket and take one last look around her room: shutters drawn, an empty La Croix can on her desk, miscellaneous hair ties and bobby pins strewn on her bathroom counter, I can’t help but be reminded that at this time in just four short years she will be almost done with her life at home. 

I’m not ready for it to be over.

Have I taught her what she needs to know? I only have four more years.

Have I helped her discover and develop her God-given talents? I only have four more years.

Have I let her make enough mistakes, within the safety of these four walls? I only have four more years.

Have I raised her to be strong and stand up for herself? I only have four more years.

Have I loved her enough?

Well, thankfully, I have the rest of my life for that.

The human who made me a Mama


  1. ooof that one got me...I am trying to enjoy our first summer after being empty-nesters, but while my now sophomore came home, he who shall be a senior has a job in college town this summer. The weather is clearly waiting for him to come home to signal that summer is approaching.
    I gasped at your sniff test as if it was a horror movie "No, don't do it!!! Don't go there!!!"

    1. So true, you'll be glad to know I have retired the sniff test. I can't imagine what it's like to be an empty nester, but I know my time will come. Enjoy your peace and quiet, and thanks for reading!


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