MARIA MCCOY – COLUMNIST :::
The funny thing about “the last time” is that you rarely ever get the opportunity to know, understand and appreciate that it’s the last time.
One minute, you’re buying Iron Man dolls off of a Christmas list and by the same time the following year, you are looking at a list filled with electronics and clothing.
That’s how it always is. One year, I remember it very distinctly now – my son said he didn’t want to dress up for Halloween. I believe he was twelve. He never dressed up again after that and I never knew that his eleventh year would be his last Halloween costume.
I had my son when I was sixteen-years-old – a senior in high school. This year, my son is a senior, and in two weeks, he will be eighteen-years-old.
He and I grew up together. Everything I know about life as a mother, I learned from my own mother and my son. Every mistake I made (and there were a lot), was made knowing that he would be the one to experience all of my firsts. The first time I had to change a diaper. The first time I had to feed a baby. The first time I used cartoons as a babysitter so I could get cleaning done. And now, with his eighteenth birthday around the corner, I realize that I also had to experience all of his “lasts” without knowing that’s what it was.
The last time he dressed for Halloween, the last time he asked for super heroes for Christmas, the last time he sat in my lap and hugged me. The last time I got to tuck him into bed. The last time he asked me to walk him into school because he was nervous. And all of these things are things that every day people take for granted, even myself.
As parents, we get the opportunity to experience life through the eyes of our children, but because life is hectic and because we overburden ourselves with the things that do not matter, we often miss out on the things that do.
For my son’s senior project we had to choose five pictures of his life growing up. How could I choose just five? How could I narrow his entire life down to five pictures? How can I take my entire world and put it into five pictures? I can’t.
He is everything I never knew I always wanted. My whole entire life. My childhood, my college years, my motherhood. My past and my future. It all revolves around these kids.
I could never accurately describe the joy and anguish that comes from being a parent, especially when they move into adulthood. And looking at the pictures, it occurred to me that some of those pictures were the “lasts” that I didn’t realize I missed.
It made me sad to think that I had let his life pass me by. Some of my pictures prompted memories I had nearly forgotten.
As the class of 2017 gets ready to graduate, ask yourself if you are living in a world of “lasts” without even realizing it. The lasts are just as important as all of the firsts.
Take so many pictures that you have nowhere to put them all. Photograph every moment, even the little ones. Memorialize every Halloween, every Christmas, every concert or award ceremony, every game.
Do not let the unimportant things in life overshadow all of the really important ones.
Life is the single most fleeting thing there ever was. We cannot prolong it but we can make the most of it while we have the opportunity to.