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Linda Hupf: Clock ticking before youngest son leaves home

5:52 PM, Apr. 25, 2013  |  Comments

While walking into the gymnasium for school conferences at Neenah High School recently, my ever-realistic husband pointed out that we're on the downward swing with parent-teacher conferences.

I, of course, was in my own mind at the time, making up stories to tell Son No. 2's teachers about his due diligence in all things school-related, but got stuck on the diligence part, when I realized my husband was actually speaking.

"Huh?"

"Conferences. Counting this one, we'll only have to do this three more times."

If a mind can put on the brakes, mine squealed at breakneck speed into the climbing wall just south of the bleachers in the gym. When I last checked, Son No. 2 was only in eighth grade.

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It's important to note here that I don't check often - that's my husband's job - but as long as I was still signing permission slips, driving him to and fro and making sure he's fed, Son No. 2 just keeps going to school. I hadn't thought he would ever actually graduate.

Eventually, reality does become, well, real. Son No. 1 spent two years at home, attending college, so the day my husband drove him off with all of his possessions packed in boxes to a college way too far away, I insisted I was already committed to humiliating myself at a dog training seminar. My "I can't see it, so it's not happening" pattern of coping would work for one more day.

The next morning, as I bound up the stairs two at a time to make sure both boys were still breathing, I let out a gasp when I remembered that Son No. 1 was no longer in his big-boy bed. But with Son No. 2 still miles away from graduation, what with my brilliant spacing of pregnancies, I smiled as I watched him drooling contentedly pillowside.

In a recent blog post, I read that we only have our kids with us for 7,000 days - at most. Seven thousand days is 19.8 years. Since Son No. 2 is 17, I'm well into my last 1,000 days with him. Well, 463 days, to be precise.

And I'm not about to let those days disappear like a 12-pack of Mountain Dew in the hands of teen boys on a hot summer day. No, sir.

I've decided that my lackadaisical parenting methods would no longer suffice with my second son - whereas with my first, they worked out A-OK.

I'm quickly being worked out of a job here and I'm not about to give up without a fight. But as I sat down to ponder what this looked like, I realized that my 17-year-old son and soon-to-be man has imprinted more life lessons onto my heart than I could ever dream of wrapping up and gifting him with in our remaining days together under one roof.

Among the many: someone has to be last; nothing is beneath you; ask; every person is a potential friend; dare to be different; life isn't lived in a box; if you don't know how, learn; serve others; set one more alarm clock than you think you'll need; and, the ever-important but least heeded by me, don't panic.

So I feel a bit panicked about this upcoming loss of being a stay-at-home mom, something I've discovered I'm not so bad at after all.

Had I known the advice Son No. 2 was going to lay beneath my feet and side-by-side within my heart, I would have torn up my own agenda and walked alongside my son when he came in last, looked for more friends among the many people who I have walked past, shot holes in the wooden box I like to stay safely cocooned within and set a hundred more alarm clocks so I wouldn't have missed one precious minute of this awe-inspired journey of parenting my sons into men.

- Linda Hupf is a Neenah resident and a Post-Crescent Community Columnist. She can be reached at pcletters@postcrescent.com

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