I remember the first time I read the book “I Love You Forever” by Robert Munsch. I was sleeping over at my sister-in-law’s parent’s house – a mushy, touchy-feely family – when I saw the book on a nightstand. Desperate for bedtime reading I picked this up and started to read. As I got to the very last page I needed to run to their bathroom and grab a tissue to wipe my tears off the book. At the same time, I laughed to myself thinking what a loser this old lady was pining away for her kid all those years.
And yet, here I am nearly 18 years later, living that book.
The last years of my eldest’s school experience have been completely filled with firsts. First days, first friends, first tests, first sleepovers, first dates, first break-ups, first standardized exams and now, in these past weeks, first acceptances for college.
Once I regained my breath from sticker shock about those acceptance letters to two amazing (and expensive) universities (neither of which anywhere close to Chicago), it occurred to me that This. Is. Really. Happening.
Ever since that moment a few weeks ago, I’ve been a bumbling idiot of tears, joy, tears, laughter, tears, stress, tears and oh, just a few tears. I haven’t resorted to creeping into his room and singing to him – just yet – but I am already prepared for more bumbling at his graduation in just a few more months.
Luckily, I have three more beauties I get to do this all over again with, but he is my first and nothing prepares you for that moment you realize it’s all going to change. Six place settings at the table will reduce to just five for most of the time. Homecomings will be short-lived and our relationship will change from parent-child to adult-to-adult (I think, but who the heck knows!).
This transition that we all knew was coming one day, is here now, and I’m just not feeling ready.
So, as I once laughed at the mom in that silly book, creeping into the window of her son’s adult bedroom, gently lifting him and rocking him to sleep – I understand.
I understand a mother’s love never ends. I thankfully also understand that I can’t creepily follow my children around for their entire lives. But, I can gently (and super softly, almost in a whisper – so they don’t run away screaming) sing to them:
“I’ll love you forever
I’ll like you for always
As long as I’m living
My baby you’ll be.”