The first time I experienced this loss was in my role as an aunt. I can pinpoint the moment with Mindy when I felt the “iteration” sting begin. And that’s not even the right word. I haven’t found one yet for this slow process of a child morphing into an adult. For years as a preschool teacher—and just living in this world as a person who loved kids—I had developed many bonds with young children who would also iterate and would be no more. Like my two neighbor boys, Riley, and Bradley, who still live two doors down. They’re still there, but they’re not. They don’t look the same. I miss those little guys so much.
Even though I had experienced this loss before in my younger life, I was still not prepared for how this would feel from the mom paradigm. And I felt wholly blindsided by it. Still do sometimes.
No one really seems to talk about it. So I’m glad for this video because it shows how hard it is to articulate without the blubbering snot.
When it happened with my own children, I remember thinking, “No one told me how hard this would be—to not have these little humans exist anymore. They’re just gone.” Please know I am not comparing this to an actual loss of a child. I can’t begin to imagine that grief. I don’t want to.
I don’t think this applies only to sons, however. I’m glad this video is available and so thankful for the writer of these powerful words by Mia Freedman. She has come the closest to capturing how it feels.
The only heads up I ever got as a young mother was that classic one that goes something like this: “Enjoy them now because it will be over before you know it.” Somehow that wasn’t warning enough for me.
I have a distinctive memory of sitting in my car along the curb in front of my kids’ elementary school. The window was rolled down and I was listening, anticipating the end-of-school-day bell to ring. (I had already noticed the iteration.) I remember watching the second hand on my wristwatch and thinking in time with the tick, tick, tick. It was a powerful audio-visual reminder of these seconds ticking away… never…to…return.
I reminded myself to be present with them when they got into the car.
Iteration. I just Googled it and it listed as one of the definitions, “a procedure in which repetition of a sequence of operations yields results successively closer to the desired result.”
As Amanda Keller says in this video, this “procedure” of our kids growing up is “the desired result,” but baby, does it sting.
In this piece by Mia Freedman, she refers to how her son’s eyes would light up when he’d see her. Yesterday I was looking for a specific photo on my computer and I came across one I took a year ago of my daughter, Cassie and her son, Brooks, who was nine months old at the time. We were on the observation deck of The Eiffel Tower in Paris and despite the obvious grandeur, all you can really see in this photo is the way he is looking at his mama. It tops anything else.
I can try to tell her, but I think there probably isn’t a sufficient heads up for the iteration, for the sting when he stops looking that way.