It was 12:30 on Friday night when the telephone rang. Panic jolted my heart as I picked up the phone. Who calls this late?
"Hi, Mom," my college-age daughter said.
"Are you okay?" I asked.
Laughter ensued. (On her end of the line. Not mine.)
"Everything is fine," she said. It sounded like her head turned to the side as she yelled, "Quiet!! I can't hear!"
"Is everything okay?" I asked again.
"Yes, Mom. I finished my final exams and a bunch of friends and I decided to drive home tonight rather than tomorrow afternoon," she said.
"It's almost one o'clock in the morning," I said. "Aren't you tired after finals?"
"My friends and I thought we'd save time," she said.
(Although there is never [n-e-v-e-r never] traffic on the roads it takes to get to her school in upstate New York.)
"We took the wrong turn though and we're lost in the Poconos," she continued. "But I have the GPS on."
This was pathetic on a few levels:
1. My daughter is in her senior year and has driven from home to school to home to school about 500 times.
2. She had the GPS on and still got lost.
"Anyway, we should be home by about two," she said. "Also, it's sort of late to drive my friends home. Do you think everyone could sleep over? Do we have any extra sleeping bags we could use in the guest room? Would it be a pain to fill up the air mattress, too?"
Just what I was in the mood for at what was now almost one o'clock in the morning.
"Sure," I said. "Just drive carefully."
I raided the linen closet for sheets and towels. Sleeping bags were laid out and the air mattress was blown up -- (which is what I literally wanted to do with it).
It was well past three in the morning when five sleepy-eyed college kids dragged into the house. Driving through the Poconos at night looked to have been as challenging as their exams were earlier that morning.
But finally, my 22-year-old daughter was home for the holidays. As she fell into my big mamma bear hug, I was brought back to her being my little girl. I looked at the shape of her fingernails and remembered watching how adroitly she picked up Cheerios with her thumb and pointy finger. I remembered the feeling of dropping her off at preschool and my son at kindergarten and thinking, "I have three-and-a-half hours to myself."
I remember the feeling of having what felt like a broad horizon of time before me.
Life truly flies by in a second. As fast as my children were babies was as fast as they were teenagers, is now as fast as they are in college. It goes by in a snap and a flash.
Embrace the little moments of your children being home this holiday week. Don't fret at the 100 pounds of laundry they lugged home because they didn't do it all semester. (Now I know why my daughter kept saying she had nothing to wear.)
Leave their room alone. Don't get udgy if their suitcases are left unpacked the entire time they are home.
Soon, once again, you'll have all the time in the world when they take flight and return to school. With your nest newly emptied -- once again -- you might even find yourself yearning to do their laundry.
(I didn't actually write that, did I? Cancel, cancel.)