I woke up at 4:48 AM this morning with a panic attack. While this is not a completely unfamiliar event for me, it has been months since I had one. Because I am familiar with the intense pounding of my pulse and the sharp pain in my heart, I knew what I needed to do in order to help it pass. Lying in the dark on my warm, soft bed next to my sleeping husband I began to take long slow breaths breathing in through the nose, holding it for a count of five and out through the mouth slowly.
As my pulse began to slow and the pain in my chest began to subside, my mind settled on the thoughts that had sparked the panic attack, “It’s going too fast. I can’t slow it down and maybe I’ve already missed the chance to do some of the most important things with him. Things he will need for the rest of his life.” The He in this story is my 8 year-old son.
They Are Only Little Once...
It took all of my willpower not to jump up out of my bed and run to his and cocoon him in my arms. Some of you might be thinking, “but that’s exactly what you should’ve done. They’re only young once.” And you are partially right. That is probably what I should’ve done for myself; to meet my own needs to hold onto him and to calm my fearful heart.
But I am fairly certain that that is not what he needed in that moment. He did not need a sobbing mother clinging to him in the middle of the early morning hours. He did not need to be woken and worry about why his typically rock solid mom was a puddle of tears lying next to him in bed.
We’ve worked so hard to help him be strong and brave and independent. And he is all of those things after all. Bravely taking on new challenges at a maddening pace. Boldly forging new friendships and allowing himself to be known in the world, however small and insulated that world is for now. I see in this 8 year-old boy none of the insecurities and fears I have for him.
When he was very young and people would sweetly say to me, “cherish these days, they are gone in an instant,” I would often smile and nod so they would move along. Inside I remember thinking, “I am savoring these days. And I won’t let them go too fast. I’m going to do ALL THE THINGS and BE ALL THE THINGS so that this little boy and I won’t miss anything.”
It’s going too fast. I can’t slow it down and maybe I’ve already missed the chance to do some of the most important things with him. Things he will need for the rest of his life. The He in this story is my 8 year-old son.
The Years Are Like Minutes...
And the truth is, I think we are really living that dream these days well. We are going to the places and doing the things and making the memories and not getting too caught up in all the stuff. And yet, I still woke up in a panic this morning because the reality is that the years with our children do fly by.
So, as I drifted back to sleep for another 30 minutes, my thoughts drifted not to the future and to all the things I need to be sure I do with that growing boy before it’s time to pack his bags for college (wait we live in a college town! Maybe he’ll decide to live in the basement freshman year).
Instead, my thoughts landed on the memories with him. I saw him at 9 months old not even really crawling, but instead full on walking across the living room in a matter of minutes. I remember how we said from that moment on he never stopped moving forward.
I recalled him dressed as a strawberry in his first preschool parade that featured his favorite book at the time, The Big Hungry Bear. I recall the way he took to becoming a big brother to not just one baby, but twins!
I remember the first time he read an entire book to me aloud. My memories of seeing the world of books open as he learned to read are some of my favorite. I could recall him walking me through the adventures of Jack & Annie with surprising attention to detail for a 6 year old! I remembered how he jumped for joy and hugged my neck when I told him he was “old enough” to start reading Harry Potter in the 2nd grade.
I could hear his voice in my dreams singing the songs he loved so much as he took on music as a hobby. I remember the sadness he felt about leaving his old friends and moving across the country, but I also recalled the joy he found in forging new friendships and discovering his love for history and architecture.
When I awoke to the alarm a little later that morning, I felt a hand on my arm. I looked over expecting to find that one of the twins had come in for morning snuggles. Instead, I looked over to find the face of my big, tough boy sleeping sweetly next to me with his hand gently holding onto my arm. Maybe he wants to hold on to these days just as much as I do. And so, I didn’t get out of bed just yet, even though the bus would be coming in 30 short minutes. I snuggled a little closer and let my heart hold on a little longer.
What are you doing to hold on to the fleeting moments? What are you doing to let go and watch your children grow into the teenagers/adults they will become?
Contributing Sister Site and Author
In the last 10 years, Christina and her husband, Jonathan have lived in five houses in three cities and had three children via two pregnancies. Moving to Richmond, Virginia fulfilled a life long dream of living in a place where autumn feels like autumn and the beach and mountains are both within a couple hours drive. Christina’s passion to inspire women, and to bring them together in a way that is authentic and brave drive her to create a community that will change the world for the better, one family at a time. When she’s not writing, you can usually find Christina out exploring a local museum, library or hiking trail with her three children or out tasting some of the delicious food Richmond has to offer with her husband.
Christina is a contributor for Richmond Moms Blog, one of our Sister Sites.