A dozen years pass in the blink of an eye

Recently I was having a conversation with a mom of two school-age kids.

"Only 10 more weeks until school starts!" she said, already feeling drained with near constant summer activities and endless questions asked by her daughter. I nodded my head, because I vividly remember those days, running after three little boys and counting down the hours until my husband came home from work.

I reminded my friend of the saying, "The days are long and the years are short," a cliche so poignant for me right now.

Our oldest son just moved into an apartment in Salt Lake City, so he will not be coming home for an extended period this summer. Our middle son just graduated from Hinsdale Central, and will attend the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. He left a few days ago to spend two weeks with his big brother before reporting for basic cadet training at the end of June. Luckily, we still have our 15-year-old son at home, but he's busy with his activities and not around much, so the house is eerily quiet.

Was it just last weekend all the boys were home and our house was lit up late into the night with bantering and laughter? With our upcoming move to Houston, we enjoyed our last days in this house together as a family, reminiscing about our 12 years in Hinsdale. My heart was so full, I made a mental note not to forget that moment.

It doesn't seem that long ago that our boys were in preschool and now our youngest son can drive. Have I have been so busy, almost robotic, that the time has passed in the blink of an eye? Don't get me wrong, I love having big kids. We can travel and hike together, discuss politics and I don't have to nag them about picking up toys or getting homework done. It's been a real blessing to watch them grow into amazing young men, but now I'm having a tough time letting go.

So here is my PSA to all the parents of young children who are feeling overwhelmed with the kids home for summer break. I know you love your children, and you are not a bad parent for wanting to get back into a routine. Do not feel guilty for wanting some "me" time and a break from the kids. These are normal feelings!

However, as a mom who has been doing this for 21 years, I can assure you that they do grow up and your house will eventually be quiet. You may then feel a little teary that your nest is emptying and question if you appreciated all those long summer days enough.

I need to reframe my thought process and remember that the boys are grown, not gone. I can still be an active parent, just from afar. With big kids, I'm afforded more time to do the things I want to do. I could study Italian, learn how to play the guitar or climb a mountain. There are so many options! Today though, I need to clear out the winter coats, pack some boxes and start writing letters to my son at boot camp. For now, my new endeavors will have to wait.

- Stephanie Seppanen of Hinsdale is a former contributing columnist. Readers can email her at [email protected].