I remember when we brought each of our boys home from the hospital. We’d sit and stare at them, mesmerized, unable to look away. Watching them was better than anything on television. I could just stare at them for hours on end. They didn’t need to be doing anything. I was completely transfixed with their being-ness.
My intense observation didn’t stop when they were babies. It lasted for many, many years. I just loved watching our boys explore new foods, figure out a puzzle, play with toys and navigate new friends.
Then life got busy and they weren’t around as much. School or activities, lots of distractions. I just didn’t find myself focused on observing them so much anymore.
I’d just brought our younger son home after getting braces. He was sitting on the couch, in his usual position- phone in hand. And I caught myself. I just couldn’t stop looking at him. (Luckily he was oblivious because finding me staring at him may have freaked him out.) I don’t know what it was, but I just couldn’t take my eyes off of him. And then the thought hit me like a sack of potatoes: I was witnessing him change right before my very eyes!
It’s not that I hadn’t been noticing the changes along the way.
Yes, he was growing taller and filling out. But there was something about the ‘braces rite of passage thing’ that caught me off guard. He was never scrawny, but now his toned body seemed bigger and his face seemed more mature. I became aware of how the pitch of his voice was lowering. Suddenly he appeared (clearing my throat) more manly.
Beyond the physical changes, it was also hard not to notice the shift in his personality. He was articulating his thoughts and feelings in a much clearer and concise manner. He was louder, funnier, and much more sarcastic, but in a fun way.
I’ve heard that your life flashes before your eyes right before you die.
It’s strange, but I’ve been having so many moments of reflection, appearing like videos in my mind, of moments in my life. They appear in no particular order. The boys as babies, graduating with my Master’s degree, the boys as toddlers, getting married, performing on stage, being a gymnast, playing outside with friends as a young child. The list could go on and on.
Maybe this is happening now because so much around me is shifting. I’m keenly aware that not only are my boys growing and changing, but so are my parents, my husband, and….me. I’m changing. Several months ago someone said to me, “Sarah, you’ve changed.” Inside myself, I experienced her remark as an accusation, that somehow I’d betrayed our relationship. But then I realized, we’re all supposed to change. Everyone. And I was lucky enough to have someone reflect the growth happening within myself back to me.
Sometimes change is dramatic and obvious- like witnessing our boys grow from babies to mini adults, getting their driver’s license, applying to college…(allow me a moment to shed a tear, please.) And some are more subtle. Like a change in the foods I enjoy or my taste in clothes. And we’re all constantly having to adapt and adjust to these changes happening. All. Of. The. Time. And of course that’s going to affect our relationships. Some will grow and change with us and some will sever. Some may do both, separating for a while and finding the way back into our lives later.
But as I deepen in my learning, I’m experiencing myself as much more authentic and attuned to my truth.
I’m also aware of when my stealthy little ego shows up as a way to separate me from that truth. So I keep check of the things that pop up and upset me. They’re markers, reminding me of places I may need to pay attention and course correct.
And instead of mourning the boys that I’ve had to say goodbye to, I’m choosing to focus on the ones right in front of me. It’s a glorious time, full of firsts for us all. And I’ve been given this wonderful gift, an extension of time. Time to sit and observe, appreciate, soak in and indulge in the magnificent life I’ve had up until now. Time to stop and witness the miracles happening right before my very eyes.
Today my younger son came out dressed in pants, a sweatshirt and his Vans sneakers. His hair was styled perfectly messy, the way he likes. I had to do a double-take. He looked so grown up. Just a blink of an eye ago, he was a couple inches shorter, but now his eye line meets mine. With no time to take a picture, I froze the moment and etched it into my mind. I took a deep breath, kissed him good bye, and watched him leave for school.
I’d worried about those moments in the past, fearful that I wouldn’t find my way through the sadness of losing the boys they used to be. Instead, I sat down, opened my computer and continued my writing project. And I took a moment to allow myself the joy I’m feeling for the changes I’m experiencing in my life.
What a gift to be able to witness our children grow AND have my own joy. I think I may finally be finding that balance that had eluded me for so long. A gift of time and change that I welcome with joy.
Sarah Altman worked in the entertainment industry before becoming a career mom. With a curiosity in the human inner experience, Sarah earned a Master’s Degree in Spiritual Psychology and her writing has evolved as a way to share her learnings. When she’s not busy with her mom duties, you can find Sarah nestled up, writing on her computer or indulging in a British period piece on television. Sarah lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two boys, who bring her love, joy and laughter every day. Her book, My Breast Life, One Woman’s Journey Through Cancer Blog by Blog, is available on Amazon.
Image courtesy of Kindel Media.