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gifts and time

Have you ever received a gift that didn't look like a gift? Maybe it was wrapped in the Co-op flyer or tied in a black garbage bag? I've had gifts like that. In fact I had one just this past weekend.

May and June are busy months. July too, actually. There's a lot going on and every weekend has some sort of plan attached. My Busy Mom calendar on the fridge has many detailed scribbles and very little room for error or improvisation. There are graduations and achievement days and appointments and work meetings and volunteer commitments and family events and there should be more days in the week but if there were, they would be full too.

This coming fall, my sons are both moving away to University. My younger son graduates this year and plans to attend University of Calgary to study Business. My older son has been working for the last two years. He chose to delay his university entrance due to the restrictions from covid, because he didn't want to spend his days alone in front of a computer. So this fall with a return to normalcy, he will attend U of C to study Engineering.

And so it is that they are both preparing to move and start a new phase of life. As we all know in this post-pandemic world, fuel is at an all time high and many things can be hard to come by. Rental units are in that category. So when it comes to apartment hunting, the sooner the better. The early bird gets the worm...and also the digs within walking distance of campus.

To my knowledge, the hunt for housing was being handled and I could leave it off my to do list. A very welcome relief to me in the midst of this busy spring. But alas, the only constant is change, am I right? Plans took a turn and the thing which I thought I could leave off my list was suddenly right back on it in a fairly urgent way. Mom, can you take us to look for places? I hear my inside voice. It's saying; "What the...? I thought this was handled! Have you seen the Very Busy Mom calendar on my fridge? Does it look like I can clear a weekend to take you to Calgary and facilitate this major life decision? Are you out of your ever-loving minds?"

Of course I didn't say that and my outside voice sounded more like: "Hmm, I'm sure I can make that work, you bet. We better get it figured because places will be scooped up, hey?"

So I shuffled and rearranged. I wrestled with the fridge mounted calendar. I hired someone to do chores and made plans for the dog and put off the family photo session and tried to remember to breathe. In with positivity, out with all-that-other-crap. In with ease and optimism, out with for-the-love-of-pete-I-don't-have-time-for-this. Let me tell you, I have not found a stress management technique that works for me at 3am. In the wee hours of the morning, it's chicken little and the sky is falling. Stress abounds, everything is overwhelming and nothing goes smoothly. 3am, you suck.

But then. Then the sun comes up and Very Busy Mom drinks the magical coffee and she loads up the sons and the daughter and they head West. They listen to music and look at the scenery and tell stories and jokes and some of them have a nap. They find the perfect apartment and they walk around the most excellent campus and they bask in the sunshiny goodness of another task checked off the long to-do list that comes with each new milestone in life. They don their souvenir sweaters and stand in front of the iconic arches and they smile with joy and relief at a job well done.

In that moment and all that followed, Very Busy Mom realized she had peeled back the Co-op flyer and discovered a lovely gift that hadn't looked like a gift when it first landed in her lap. Every moment with these two is something to cherish. Each experience right now is sealed as a memory of a most important time in their lives. I had the responsibility and the honour and the pleasure of being there for it. I got to see their smiles and feel their excitement and hold a space beside them that I've come to know is reserved for me.

As parents, we are makers. We make meals and rules and memories. We make costumes and appointments and birthday cakes. We make them feel better and we make them eat their vegetables and we make them call us when they get there. One day, they won't need us to make most of those things. They will make their own rules and they will make their own appointments. But there is one thing they will always need us to make for them, and that is Time. We rearrange and shuffle and pull something out of thin air and Voila! we have literally made time. It might be messy and it might be fleeting and it is most definitely wrapped haphazardly in a wrinkled Co-op flyer. But we have made it. We have made time and we have gifted it to them. And to ourselves.


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