Remember when I used to be the tallest person in the room? um…those days are over!

Yeah, yeah – I learned to be a big girl during the summer. I felt no guilt at not calling the boys every day, I had a “just me” vacation, I went out with friends then drove slowly home because I didn’t have a curfew, and  I even ate a half a bag of Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos for dinner one night… and then breakfast the next morning not just because it was all that left in the house, but because I wanted to (and maybe a little because it’s all that was left in the house) but mostly because I wanted to!  I really did grow up a little this summer – and it felt good.  Really good.

Then… the day the boys came home… I stopped growing. I laid on the couch like a wounded animal (and not just because of the Doritos), my pulse was racing, my stomach hurt, and I’m not exaggerating (a lot) but it is entirely possible that time stopped moving at its normal pace and actually  started crawling. Literally. Crawling. The city even moved the airport like fifty miles further than it used to be (Yes they did!  You don’t know.).

All of the hard work I had accomplished learning to have a life outside of the boys splintered as I searched high and low for my children whom I hadn’t seen in two months because, of course, they were taking their own sweet time getting to the one of many luggage carousels. After about the 10th (15th) phone call to Nick’s cell phone I was missing them so much that I had started to hear his ringtone… ahhhh… how I missed his ringtone…

 Turning, I tried to look through the throng of people to see my two babies… my little boys… only to find that my little boys were no longer little… and one looked just like the man that kept staring at me while I made frantic phone calls to my kids. Possibly because the guy staring at me all this time was my kid. My baby.  My little boy – who just wasn’t so little anymore.

Suddenly, the nerves, fretting, unease, panic, and restlessness faded.   Something just clicked into place.  Not to sound too sappy, but a piece of me I didn’t realize was off kilter was suddenly put back into place and I felt at peace for the first time in a long time.

It took no time at all to bring life back into focus – the boys were fighting, I was swearing, and vegetables were reintroduced into my world.  Within days they were begging to be released from my suffocating embrace (in fairness, that’s probably an accurate description) to go visit other friends and family, and within hours I had abandoned all sense of pride and asked Dominic to get the toaster off the top of the fridge because well… I hadn’t been able to reach it in weeks.

And with that, my sanity was restored as a mom.  It would seem that the phrase, “you’ll always be my baby” can also be translated as, “I’ll always be a mom”… and for the first time, it kind of made sense.

Have you ever had a moment like that where all of a sudden you noticed, your kids were not little kids anymore? What was your reaction? Did you long for the way things used to be or are you accepting of the way they are? Lemme hear ya.. let me know, I’m not the only one!

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Wendy Syler Woodward has been a single parent for 10 years, with two boys ages 12 and 16. Originally from southern California, Wendy moved her family seven years ago to Phoenix where she manages a law firm for work, writes for fun, and this year returned to college for her B.A.  Follow her on Twitter @WendySyler.