We could hear the sobbing coming from all the way upstairs. Logan and I were in the kitchen on the main level turning off lights and getting ready to head to bed when it began: first quiet and then crescendoing into an unbridled fit of teenage drama.
“What in the world?” I said walking to the foot of the stairs and craning my neck to see if I could locate the source of the crying. I spotted Jane, our 14-year-old, standing over her bathroom sink washing her face and bawling her eyes out. “It’s just Jane,” I reported back to Logan, who gave a knowing nod before we calmly went back to the task of shutting down our house for the night.
It’s not that Logan and I are completely callous parents or that the sound of our daughter weeping doesn’t cause concern. It’s just that Jane is, well … emotional. She feels things deeply. Something that might go completely unnoticed by an average-feeling human could be an emotional earthquake for Jane.
I know this because she and I are very similar in many ways. We blubber when we watch YouTube videos of returning soldiers surprising their kids at school. We cry – no, weep – at the end of novels when the heroine suffers a devastating loss. And when we listen to a song with particularly poignant lyrics, we’re a disaster.
Which brings us back to Jane crying in the bathroom. As her sobbing reached decibels that threatened to wake up her two youngest brothers (which would, in turn, have made me sob), I headed up the stairs to see what could possibly be causing such heartbreak. “What’s going on?” I asked Jane as she dried her face and dabbed at her eyes.
She sniffled. “Lucy, George and I were just hanging out in my room talking, and it was so fun, and then I heard the Taylor Swift song ‘Never Grow Up,’ and Lucy is leaving for college next year, and then George is leaving the year after that, and then our family will be destroyed, and it won’t ever be the same!”
Her tears started flowing afresh as I wrapped her in a hug, or as much of a hug as she would allow. She’s not really a hugger despite her highly emotional leanings in all other areas of her life. “Oh honey,” I replied. “Taylor Swift? At midnight? That’s never a good idea, you know that.”
She nodded her head in agreement as I continued. “But I know what you mean. That line where she talks about getting dropped off in a new city – it’s a killer.” As a highly sentimental person myself, I totally understood where Jane was coming from. The thought of Lucy leaving for college next year is something that I try to put out of my mind as quickly as it comes in.
I feel like I’m still just getting started as a mom, and here I am almost 18 years into it with kids about to leave the nest much sooner than I feel ready. My little family is my entire world, and while I know that world won’t cease to exist just because my kids grow up, I can’t help but feel sentimental about how things used to be.
And how I wish I could freeze time just where it is right now with everyone still home each night tucked safely into their rooms and sharing a laugh together well past their bedtime. To quote Swift herself:
Take pictures in your mind of your childhood room;
Memorize what it sounded like when your dad gets home.
Remember the footsteps, remember the words said,
And all your little brother’s favorite songs.
I just realized everything I have is someday gonna be gone.
So here I am in my new apartment
In a big city, they just dropped me off.
It’s so much colder than I thought it would be,
So I tuck myself in and turn my nightlight on …
Oh darling, don’t you ever grow up,
Don’t you ever grow up, just stay this little.
And now, you’ll have to excuse me while I go sob in my bathroom.
Julia Ditto shares her life with her husband, six children and a random menagerie of farm animals in Spokane Valley. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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