Watching your children grow up proves to be bittersweet

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As a college student who is a little older (but still under 40, thank you), I have a different vantage point. This past June, my first-born graduated high school and then, Tuesday after Labor Day, shipped out to join the Marines.

I know a lot of you are young and don’t have children yet. For the most part, I am writing to warn those who don’t, just know raising them for 18 years goes by too quickly, and saying goodbye after they turn that magical number is harder than it seems.

Nineteen years go this December, I found out I was pregnant with him. That next July, I delivered him early at Covenant HealthCare Hospital, and he was admitted to the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit. He spent 13 days there, and trust me, after he had graduated from there, I still was vigilant listening to him sleep.

If he coughed or sneezed, I was on the phone with the doctor checking on what I should do. I mean, that is what you do with your first born, right?

The years seem to have flown by, and two more siblings joined our family. Fast forward to today, and he’s now suddenly gone. Your mom went through this as they dropped you off at school a couple weeks ago. They also went through it at your graduations from high school, and for you graduate students again when you graduated with your first degree(s). As the mom of my son, I broke down in tears, and so did every mother in the room as they left to the parking lot.

It is hard being a parent. No one tells you this because they want you to be a parent and your mom and dad want grandchildren when you are ready to do it. I wouldn’t have changed anything over this past 19 years except slowed it down to savor smelling his skin after a bath, to hear his laughter as a baby or holding him as he slept on my heart as a baby. I took a little more time with my third baby because I knew she would be my last one. I also would not change the fact that I would take a nap with my final baby while her brothers were in school. I would not change a single moment during their lives.

Yet, I had to watch my baby take an oath and swear to protect our country. I did that without tears, no problem. But watching him leave my house and not come back, that drove me to tears. Yet, would I change anything? Not a chance.