This week, my son played what could be his final baseball game. Certainly, he played his final game of high school, and (I'm fairly certain) graduation is soon to follow. The end of life as he knows it is near. Actually, the end of life as I know it is near too.
For years -- I would say the nearly 20 I have known my husband and his children -- I have been packing life in. I married into four children -- ages 9, 8, 5, and 3 -- and I immediately began "spinning the merry-go-round," as my husband termed it. All of my children have been busy -- including the one my husband and I added to the mix, who recently turned into an adult. Their activities, more than my own, have been my focus. It got easier when they began driving so they could drive themselves to their various practices and events, but I have been the parent who has attended every drama performance, every sports activity, every awards ceremony, every who knows what.
I am about to go from "be there; do that" to "been there; done that." My mom skills -- other than meal planning, grocery shopping, and providing gustatory delights, assuming this child attends college in town and remains at home -- will no longer be needed.
After the last out of the last baseball game, I breathed a sigh of relief -- and stifled a sob. I admit I am a bit conflicted. On the one hand, I thought of the mornings free of frantic packing not only for the day but for the evening's game. For the evenings free of hurried traveling to various parts of the state for a game of baseball after a full day's work. For a house a little better tended because of these free hours and reduced stress. For meals eaten off plates rather than out of a cooler or a fast-food restaurant. Oh -- and for never having to scrub red clay and grass stains from white uniforms again. Those changes are worthy of a sigh of relief.
But then I thought of never seeing my son wearing his baseball uniform -- Number 11 -- or confidently taking the mound or making a double play from left field again. Of not stressing each time he stood at the plate, silently praying that he... Would. Hit. The. Ball. And hit it well. Of not paying attention to every pitch and every movement because keeping the score book kept me thoroughly engaged. Because there is no fan like a mother -- right?
This Saturday afternoon, I took the time to clean my bedroom. I defrocked it of its winter's attire -- the hats and scarves, the heavy blankets, the heating blanket (mine), the portable radiator heater -- and cleaned it well. It looked so empty -- and, yet, so fresh and clean and good. The windows are open. The humidity is rising. Spring is here, and by the end of my winter-defrocking, I felt as if summer had arrived. I was sweaty with the effort and sat down to write a blog post -- this one -- with the ceiling fan higher than my husband will like. (But he is safely on a bike ride, and I am free to think, feel, and enjoy a hefty breeze from this electronic source in his absence.)
As a housekeeper, I said goodbye to one season and moved into another. As I did Tuesday, after my son's last game.
When we arrived home, I unpacked my Vera Bradley bag and spread its contents on the table for a photo -- for I recognized the moment as significant. From the bag, I withdrew old team lineups, ours and our opponents. The score book, of course, open to the district tournament game just completed. (A record of a single elimination tournament loss. "Win or go home." "Sudden death." Sudden end to a baseball season.) My faithful pencils -- one to use, one to share. Refill lead and erasers. Carmex. Binder clips -- my personal "must have" for keeping the score book on windy days. The wrapper from a package of toe warmers. Game tickets. Tissues. My generic Imitrex packages... many empty. (Migraine or not, mom's job must go on...)
After packing in my baseball game supplies since games started in February, I was unpacking my bag. After packing my children's lives into my own for the past nearly 20 years, I am unpacking. Life can be a bit less about children, a bit more about my husband and me. Like my bedroom, defrocked of its winter attire, it looks a bit empty -- but also fresh and clean.
And full of promise.
But while I breathe that sigh of relief, I admit tears are rolling down my cheeks. I will miss this season of life.
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