I spent last evening sitting on a bench in the breezeway at church, wondering just when I abdicated my social life completely. My daughter and her friends were socializing at the carnival, too old for me to tag along, too young for me to leave the premises altogether - at least as far as I was concerned. Since it was the third night this week that we patronized the carnival, the attractions had lost their luster, and I was content to sit on my bench near the fish pond, enjoying the ambient carnival sounds and cool evening weather.
But the carnival is just the tip of the iceberg. As my daughter has gotten older and more involved in school and sports activities, her schedule has become the centerpiece of our family life. Her social life has supplanted ours, and even the date nights that we planned when she was small have fallen by the wayside. Now, rather than being planned events, date nights happen when she is at a friend's house, a party or a sleepover.
Much of our time is spent doing things as a family, and as she continues to grow up - much too fast, I might add - I have come to prefer this arrangement. As her middle school years dwindle, I am profoundly aware of the fact that before I know it, there will be plenty of date nights and not nearly enough family time.
So, I will treasure even the summer evenings spent on a bench on a cool evening, as she checks in and we add and subtract kids, sending this one home with their parents, chauffeuring that one home with us. I will joke with other parents about how she stops by when she needs more money, or needs me to hold onto something for her, secretly relishing those fleeting moments because only she and I know that those stops are the teenage umbilical cord, the equivalent of the toddler running around the corner, then running back to make sure Mom's still there.
Mom's still here. And she's not going anywhere.