A Mom’s Last Chances

With my daughter heading off to college, I'm making a checklist ... and it's not about packing

My daughter and I were visiting my mom on Long Beach Island last week and, due to Bedroom Shuffle, we ended up sleeping together. I’m an early riser so I woke before my daughter did. Well, truth be known, you could pretty much sleep until noon and still get up before a teenager but there I was at 6:30 in the morning. I looked over at my on-the-cusp-of-adulthood child and stared at her sweet face. Now, don’t get worried that I’m going to get all mushy and sentimental because, lately, about the only time I like her is when she’s asleep. But, while staring at her, I realized that this was probably the last time we’ll sleep together. She’s off to college in a few short weeks and it got me to thinking about The Last Time. You know, the last time you climbed a tree or swung on the monkey bars. I’m not talking about things you haven’t done in a while, I mean things that you have most certainly done for the last time. [SIGNUP]

But when you did them for the last time, you didn’t know it, did you? Would you have done them differently? Would the knowing have helped you to make a better memory or just ruin the experience? I wonder. Would I have lingered a little longer the last time I brushed her hair? Or would I have held her tighter the last time she had a nightmare and cried for Mommy?

Okay, maybe I am going to get a little sentimental and mushy. Still, I wish I had known the last time I:

Changed her diaper … I would have played with her chubby legs a few minutes more.
Breast-fed her … I would have closed my eyes and made a memory.
Let her dance on top of my feet … I would have danced longer.
Grabbed her by the wrists and swung her around in a circle until we both fell down dizzy and laughing … I would have laughed louder.
Cuddled her while watching a scary movie … I would have cuddled tighter.
Read her bedtime stories … I would have read just one more.
Lied to her about Santa … I would have been more convincing.

I suppose it’s just as well that I didn’t know that I was experiencing all those lasts. I probably would have been sighing and cuddling and snuggling both of us right into therapy. I’m sure I did enough damage parenting this child to be guilty of anything more. Now, however, a few Lasts are glaring at me, daring me not to get all weepy and obnoxious.

College is looming and, in a matter of days, she’ll be off to Boston and on her own. And so my husband and I wonder if this will be the last lazy summer of us all sitting on the beach playing Scrabble or reading a good book. Rumors of a double major and study abroad have me thinking that, in fact, we might not be seeing her over the summer months. Have we seen the last door-slamming argument over how many holes one should have in their ear or what exactly is an appropriate curfew? Have we listened for the last time to her horrible radio station while driving my car? Perhaps. Those lasts I can live through easily with no regrets.

It’s that hair-brushing one I really miss.