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We just finished our last parent-teacher interviews ever. That’s it. Another phase in our parenting life is over. I almost shed a tear.

Our youngest son will graduate from Grade 12 in June from Rosthern Junior College. Right now, he’s on a learning and service tour of Guatemala with the school. He has become independent, smart and adventurous.

Our eldest son will start fourth year university in the fall. He’ll graduate in 2020, get a real job and move out — or maybe get a Master’s degree — but he’s still moving out! He too is independent, articulate and intelligent.

How and when did that happen?  The days go slowly but the year fly fast.

For the last 15 years, like every parent out there, Kevin and I have kept up with our sons’ school lives — from making sure the reading checklist was done in Kindergarten, to creating last minute science projects out of copper pipe, duct tape and string in middle school, to discussing Lord of the Flies for Grade 12 English class.

Most of my 30’s and early 40’s are a blur in my memory punctuated with events captured in photographs. Those were the years of babies, sleepless nights and general house chaos followed by school fundraisers, volunteering, making meals on the fly (we ate A LOT of stir fry’s in those years), only to drive all over creation for extracurricular activities — all whilst building a farm business, trying to keep some semblance of a marriage, and enduring sleep deprivation.

In the midst of it all, the days seem never ending. Someone always wants mom for something. “Mom, have you seen my ____?”, “Mom, where did you put my ____?”, “Mom, I’m hungry but I don’t want to eat ____!” Will it ever end?

And then it does. Gulp.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t wish to go back in time.  I’ve loved every stage and am looking forward to figuring out this next phase with grown children.

Although Kevin and I bumbled our way along as young parents, and still fumble today with nearly adult children, there are a few things we got right:

  1. We were slacker parents. The kids could each pick one extra-curricular activity beyond school activities — that kept us running enough! We figured our kids will have their entire adult lives to be scheduled and “busy”. They need time to be kids — to play, to imagine and learn how it feels to be bored. [Wouldn’t you just love to be bored for a day or more?]
  2. We ate together. It’s a mixed bag of blessings to have your business within 50 metres of your home, but the big advantage was we could have at least one or two meals a day together. That is our time to connect, learn social skills and create a family routine.
  3. We took the vacation. We decided to buy memories instead of stuff. From the time the kids were 8 years old, we took an annual three-day summer road trip or fishing trip and a weeklong winter vacation every year.  We needed time to play together away from the 24/7 demands of farming. Those memories will last a lifetime.
  4. We created ritual. I wish we had done more of this now that I see how the boys will make time for our traditions, especially around the holidays.  For example, our Christmas celebrations would not be complete without watching “A Christmas Story” whilst eating Chinese food, celebrating Festivus with “noodles and red sauce” and “feats of strength” on December 23rd, and carol singing at church on Christmas Eve. Ritual defines our place in the world, connects us, and tells us we belong.

One accidental ritual that started in 2012 is our annual picture of me and the boys. Taken from behind, Kevin snaps a candid shot of us walking arm in arm somewhere every year. It marks the changes and growth in our family over the years.

As a mom, I treasure these pictures. I love the feel of my boys’ strong arms entwined with mine. We belong to each other as mother and sons even when life is challenging and relationships evolve.

This Mother’s Day, take the time to find the mom(s) in your life — if not necessarily biological, find the one(s) who love you unconditionally and walk with you. Put your arms around them and create a memory.

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