So this summer we were down the shore and I sat on the beach on our last day of vacation watching my children play and it had me thinking. Thinking so much about my life, my children, and my journey. For those of you who don't know me, I have 6 children. 4 biological children and 2 stepchildren. We are a blended family. I have 2 from my first marriage, Darren, who is now 19 and Jessica who is now 17. Tim has 2 from his first marriage, Melissa who is 19 and James who is 16. Together we have Josephine who just turned 4 and Colin who is 2. For the sake of this post I am concentrating on my 4 since they have been mine from the start. Back to the beach:
I sat there watching them play together with a kite and running around. The little ones chasing the big ones, giggling, and having so much fun. And I found myself starting to cry. Being a newborn, child, maternity, and family photographer, I get to share and experience so many "firsts" in their lives. First pregnancies, first babies, first smiles, first family portraits, first sons, first daughters, first communions, first birthdays, first taste of birthday cake, first grandchildren, and even first steps. And every time, I am reminded of my firsts and joy it had brought me. Now my life is turning a little bit. I am experiencing so many lasts along with these firsts. And I never thought these days would come. I didn't think about the last time I will experience a first. Or the last time I would experience something that has been a huge part of my life. Especially these past couple years.
My oldest son has given me all my first lasts. He is my first to graduate high school this year and I watched him play his last baseball game in May. He has played since he was 3. Yes, 3. He played tee-ball with a t-shirt that reached his ankles and he never looked back. Baseball was our getaway. When things were bad, we had baseball. Through my divorce and when things were a little rough, we would play baseball to distract him. It was our "thing." I loved watching him play. Such talent, drive, and determination. Things almost went quiet when I would watch him. Then May came and I watched him play his last game, make his last play, take his last at bat, and walk off the field for the last time. Man... Our "thing" was over. I could barely keep my composure and neither could he.
Now as this summer comes to an end, my oldest daughter will be a senior. We will visit her first college, fill out her first application, go shopping for her first prom dress (since my thrifty daughter borrowed all her other prom dresses :). And, again, I will experience all the lasts again. I coached Jess in cheerleading from the time she was 6 until she was 14. I have been through our last competition as her coach, and the last time I will sit on the side of the mat to watch her. Cheerleading was our "thing." Our escape. I am in awe when she cheers. The strength, stamina, and talent that oozes from her amazes me. Again, the whole world shuts down when I watch her. High school came and I moved from the floor to the bleachers. The bleachers were to me were like moving from your childhood home for the first time. It was different and kind of cool, but no place like home. But I have made some great friends in my new home. This year, I will watch her last first competition of the year, cheer her last football game, our last trip to Orlando for Nationals, and her last high school competition. I will watch my daughter be recognized as a Senior and I will be the one being consoled instead of the other moms who my heart has broken for.
Along with these last with my older ones comes so many firsts ahead - first day of college, first day at the new job, and I as a grandmother will experience my own kids moving through all these first as I stated above... Is it really close to being that time???
While all this is going on, I get to experience all the first with my youngest two. First days of PreK. First cheerleading practice. First competition. First baseball game. First --- whatever activity they want. First day of school. It seems like it's starting all over again. In some ways it is exactly the same. In many ways its not. I am very excited and so very exhausted thinking about doing this all again! But one thing that is so evident. The one thing that blows up in my face each time I think about it is the insane amount of lasts that are in my future.
Colin will be 3 soon. He is my last. My last baby. I could barely type that. No matter what first I experience with him will be my last first. In 3 short years I have been through too many lasts already. I have delivered my last baby. Have had the feeling of holding my baby for the first time for the last time. Watched my baby roll over, crawl, and walk for the first time for the last time. Just to name a few and I am sure I am leaving out a ton. Everything I experience with this precious baby boy will be my last. Last time I will be the Tooth Fairy, Santa, & Easter Bunny. He will be my last one in Kindergarten thru High School. It's almost like he knows. He cuddles me like no other. He still holds onto my leg and always looking to make sure I'm there. This too will end and there will be a time that he hugs my leg for the last time or jumps up on me with his legs curled up onto my chest for the last time.
Having a generation gap between my first two and my last two, I know all too well how quickly it passes. I can still look at my older two and see those babies at 4 and 2, but I don't know when I had my last cuddle. When did that stop? If I had known it was my last, I would have held on a little longer. What's cute though is my olders still say things they did when they were toddlers. Jessica still says "I love you more" when I tell her I love her and she has said that since she could speak. Josephine has stolen it from her too. It's nice to see what cute and good things get passed on. Darren used to say "I luh yew, Mommy." instead of I love you, and he still says it. I wonder if they will say those things to their own children.... I hope so.
Therefore, I have made a promise to myself to make time for the little moments because I don't know when it will be my last. Soak every second in. I am capturing so many memories for so many wonderful families and I just need to remember to capture my own because they are just as important. My older two have seen me financially and emotionally struggle and my favorite description used to be that I keep digging myself out of this hole and just when I get to the top and dust myself off, there is a perpetual boot kicking me back in. (Knock Wood) - but as I sat there on the beach, I realized that I haven't seen that boot, nor do I even see the hole. As cliche as it sounds, it has been filled with love, contentment, and happiness. My husband, children, family, friends, and career have done that. I am so grateful and love how I feel inside. These were my thoughts that flew through my head in a matter of 15 minutes while watching them fly a kite on the beach as I sat with broken foot just taking pictures of their smiling faces. I will embrace these lasts and keep them forever because s all of these lasts come to an end, I will have sooo many firsts coming around full circle when a new chapter in my kids' lives and my life open. Life is Good.