Sunday, July 1, 2018

Slow Down, or not

I'm an admitted song-obsessor. I hear a new beautiful song, and I listen to it 20 times before I go to bed that night, and it's stuck in my head for days. One of my former students posted this song on social media, which is how I first heard it earlier today.

I know how these links only work for short periods, so the song is called "Slow Down" and the version I heard is by Nicole Nordeman (not the one of the same title by Selena Gomez - yuck!)

I love these mother ballads. I think my favorite is "Durch meine Finger rinnt die Zeit" - the German version of "Slipping Through My Fingers" by ABBA. I like the German best because I first saw the musical in German when M's sister and her husband sent us to that musical in Stuttgart as a wedding gift in 2006.

But back to "Slow Down." I find it a lovely song, and as it started and I realized the idea, I figured I'd tear up at some point. I did not. I must be a different kind of mom. Yes, the time flies by though it doesn't seem like it will in the middle of a collicky night or when the police call to say they have your teenager in the back of their car. But I loved every phase and step of my kids' growing up years. I thought they were adorable when they were newborns, and then they were able to crawl. That was cute and scary because we had to redecorate, and then they were able to walk. (My daughter took her first steps holding onto her Opa's fingers in an airplane on our way back from Germany!)

Then they learned to talk, and I taught them some German right from the start. I read them children's books, sang German songs with them, sent them off in the grocery store to find "zwei Äpfel, vier Bananen, und Salat." My daughter called her younger brother "Baby Ucky", and when he could speak he called her "Alla". I can't really explain either one, because "Ucky" was Alex and "Alla" was Stephanie.

Their language skills thankfully improved, and we starting having real conversations. I can still talk to my daughter about anything under the sun except that one thing no daughter ever wants to talk to her mother about, and my son is very open with me:  (yesterday) "Ucky, during your growing up years, did you EVER lie to me, and if so, did you get the feeling I did not believe you?"  Without hesitation, his answer; "Yes and yes." There were no follow-up questions because I didn't need them. I knew I had done my job.

The hardest thing I recall from the early years was dropping them at kindergarten because I believe kids are inherently mean. "That's an ugly dress!" "Why did you bring THAT for show-and-tell?" "There's no room for you at our table!" I hated the thought of my children being sad.

Alla and Ucky
But we all made it through those first days of kindergarten, and they found their way after that.

They learned to read, and we talked about books. They learned about astronomy, and I showed them the Big Dipper and Orion. They learned about Egyptian history and I brought out my big book about Egypt. They struggled with quadratic equations, and I told them to ask their father.

I tried to get my son interested in horseback riding, judo and soccer. He took up baseball, basketball, and for a few horrifying months, football. My daughter dutifully took riding lessons, stuck with soccer for two years, endured softball and Girl Scouts (I wanted the Thin Mints!), and joined the forensics (public speaking) team I coached.

When my daughter went off to college, I helped her pack and drove her up there (roughly an hour from our home), to the college I'd attended 24 years earlier. Driving home alone I knew I was supposed to be sad and all that, but all I could feel was excitement. What an adventure she was beginning! I could not wait to hear about the friends she would find, the classes she would take, and the decisions she would make (the good and the bad).

I had the same experience when I drove with my son to the university he was considering for a college visit. I didn't know the school at all, but I knew how important his attendance there would be, the friends, the classes, the experiences...

The kids have traveled with M and me to Scotland, Germany, Austria, and Tennessee. The older they get, the more fun they are to travel with.

Scotland, 2017
What I'm trying to say is that every age they have been has been better than the one before. I really like that song, but I did not need my children to slow down. The pace of their lives has been and will continue to be just as it should be.

My children are not perfect and neither am I. But I consider myself lucky to be a part of their lives and I hope they have learned something from me along the way. That's our job as parents, right? To give our kids the best start in life they can have. And then let them go.

Never mind that I nearly passed out when my son had 4 teeth pulled.
Never mind that I didn't attend every basketball game or bowling match my kids participated in.
Never mind that I forgot my daughter was already 18 when she was applying for a new passport and advised her to wait a month until her 18th birthday.
Never mind that, when my son turned 3 and had to give up his Nuk (pacifier) because that was our rule, I skipped the country (taking a group of students to Germany for 15 days) and left him with his grandparents to deal with that.

We did ok. And I'm looking forward to every phase and step with them from this point on.

Ucky leaves home tomorrow morning to start a new life with his girlfriend in Pennsylvania. They've loaded up the truck and will say their good-byes before the sun rises. It's the start of a new adventure, and I am excited for them!!

Live it up, kids! Explore the world! Learn from your mistakes! Change the world for the better!

My favorite line from that song: "Before I knew it you were teaching me the only thing love can."

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