Moments. Life is full of them. Some - like acid used to etch glass - eat away at us, leaving deep impressions in their wake. Others, instead of being corrosive, are cornerstones used to build who we become as individuals.
Then, there are those moments in between that fill in the gaps separating major milestones we mark along our journey in this world. All are important, though we may not understand the story they tell until the very end of our lives - lives over which we are the authors.
Sometimes, we stop for a moment and take stock of where we are, or perhaps who we are, and how we got there. That is the case for me now.
Nostalgia is tugging at my heart. I've found myself in a wistful state this week as classes resume for area schools in our region. Among the sea of returning students are my sons, who are facing milestone moments of their own. My youngest is entering middle school, while my oldest is in his first year of high school.
As I wrote in the lunch box note to one of them, "I blinked and here we are. You're nearly grown and my heart is filled with pride at the young man you have become."
And young men they both now are. While getting them ready for school, I observed simple changes as I ironed their clothes in the early morning hours as everyone but Mom still slept and daylight had barely crested. The sheer size of their shirts and pants were visible reminders of the external growth that had taken place this summer. So, too, were their shoes, both sets of which are now too large to fit my feet.
Less visible, but even more tangible, were the other changes that occurred during the break. All summer I sensed my boys - my babies - were on the cusp of transformation. Internally, a maturity had settled into their young souls, like when concrete dries to form a strong base upon which to build.
Steady, confident and sure, the kids have come into their own. They have weathered all life has hit them with thus far, and neither is without scars from the trek through early childhood. Yet, as they stood tall and ready to enter this school year, I saw before me two towers - each with solid cornerstones that I know will carry them into their teen years and far beyond.
This week I glimpsed the framework of the men they someday will become. This structure has been there all along, being erected one piece, one moment, at a time. But imagine my surprise, when looking from a distance, I saw what God, the Great Architect, helped the boys to build within themselves.
That was a moment, as a mother, where my breath caught in my chest, the tears formed in the corners of my eyes and my heart was full -oh, so very full.
Life is good and as it should be. The boys are growing up, facing new adventures and forging their own way. As they navigate the remainder of their youth, their father and I will be there offering love and support every step of they way.
We will hold their hands when needed and let go when the time comes. The latter is the hardest part. A parent's role never ends, but it does change. To hold on too long is to hold your children back. But you can be sure we'll offer a safety net should either of our sons ever need it.
Until then, my husband and I will be their biggest supporters, loudest cheerleaders and greatest admirers - even if all those things are from an ever-widening distance as our young men continue to grow up.
I bet I'm not the only parent feeling nostalgic during this flurry of back-to-school activity. It's hard to remember life happens at the speed of light. We all should stop - even if just for a moment - and see the rainbows that are before us.
The view is so spectacular it may take your breath away. And, when I take my last breath, I pray my sons know how very deeply they are loved.