by Lela Casey

The New Year has always been a time for me to reflect, not only on where I am personally, but on my family, on how we’ve grown and changed and found new ways to relate to each other. This year is the first year that each of my kids will be in different schools and I’ve found myself anxious about keeping our family close and wistful for the simplicity of early motherhood. 

My nostalgia leads me to take out the old photo albums and revel in days gone by. There they are bundled up in snow suits flying down the hill together on one sled, my daughter’s long red curls streaming behind her. There they are lying on the couch watching cartoons, my sons’ feet twisted around each other, my daughter’s head on her brother’s shoulder.  There they are in the sandbox, my daughter stomping on her brother’s castle while both boys reach out their arms to tackle her. There they are at the bus stop, my oldest son clutching his lunchbox like a briefcase, my middle son sticking out his tongue, my daughter pushing past both of them to get to school first.

I flip through pages and pages so stuffed with photos that they flutter to the floor like the autumn leaves outside my window. In some pictures they’re laughing, in others they’re fighting, but in all the pictures they’re together… a tangled heap of limbs and hair and freckled faces. Each of them a brightly glowing planet whirling around the tight gravity of our home star.

As the years go by, the albums begin to change.  There’s my oldest son, working the drive through at his first job. There’s my middle son singing with his rock band.  There’s my daughter, reading Anne Of Green Gables in the tree house.

They’re still smiling and freckled and filled with light. But they’re not together any more. They’re each on their own path, discovering their own interests, spinning off into their own orbits. And, while I know that it’s good and healthy for them to develop and grow, each in their own way, I worry sometimes that it’s happening too fast, that they’re moving too far away from each other, too far away from me.

I try to stop it sometimes… that spiraling off in different directions. Like when I tried to buy my two oldest sons the same backpacks this year. Or when I tried to push my younger son to stay with drums because his older brother was still taking lessons.  Or when I insisted my middle son play the pretend games he and his sister used to love.

My 13-year-old son laughed when I tried to get him to play pretend.  “You know I’m not 10 anymore, right Mom?”

“I do know.  But, your sister is 10 and she misses playing with you.”

“She won’t be 10 forever. When she gets older it will be easier for us to find stuff we both like again. RELAX!”

As we begin the New Year, I am trying my best to follow my son’s advice.  To relax and to let go of my expectations for what their relationships should be. To have faith that they will each continue to make their own beautiful way through life and that one day, when the time is right, their orbits will intersect once again.

Lela Casey is a mom and writer who edits The Wisdom Daily.