Next Step Therapy Blog: ‘Struck by the Seasons of Life’

| November 23, 2017

Tracy Cowles, CEO and owner of Next Step Therapy, submitted the following article:

Struck by the Seasons of Life

When my two boys were little, and I was working a full-time job, and running a home demonstration company, while getting kids to ball practice, scouts, and swim lessons, all while trying to keep track of homework, fundraising packets, and doctor appointments, I was frequently overwhelmed. Frequently looked at the laundry and wanted to cry. Found myself driving between patients, wondering when my kids’ beds were last changed.

I, in all honesty, flew into Franklin at twice the speed limit from Emlenton or Kennerdell, looked at the clock, realized I had 17 minutes to pick up my kids at daycare without a financial penalty, but needed a gallon of milk. Spent 30 seconds deciding it would be easier to get milk without getting two kids out of car seats…went to get the milk, and watched a tweaker buy a pack of cigarettes with pennies.

I don’t know how many times I wished my boys to be older. But, it was a lot. I wanted them to be able to clean up after themselves, help me carry things in from the car, handle their homework on their own. I wanted to not step on Legos and be done wiping butts.

Those things all happened, because of course, they do, in time. There is a saying: “The days are long. But, the years are short.”

So, here I am, soon to turn fifty, and I am struck by so many things. My youngest is going to be fifteen. We just packed up his Legos. There are no more Legos here. What there is, is shaving cream, and tickets for a dance. What there is, is a college student who tore his knee up two weeks ago, the same knee he had surgery on a year and a half ago, telling me that if he needs to go to Physical Therapy, he’ll make that appointment himself, as he is an adult now. And no, he doesn’t need his crutches, he’s an Athletic Trainer student, they have 300 pair of crutches. He’s got this. Of course, he does. I raised him to handle himself at nearly twenty.

If you read my blogs, you know I wrote one recently about “Baby B.” A baby I volunteered to watch once to help a friend, which turned into three days a week, and is now here five days a week on average. 54 hours a week of my life is devoted to caring for a ten-month-old. My house, which could be a “show place” is now filled with a pack n play, a high chair, a Johnny jump up hanging from my gorgeous original woodwork. Toys everywhere. No Legos, but darn, those shape blocks hurt really bad when stepped on. There is poop, and spit-up, and spilled bottles. The high chair needs power washed, and the whole couch smells like spoiled milk. I couldn’t care less. Thank you, Febreze. I am struck by how little I care most days about the dust and dog hair, and how much I care about how often Baby B. laughs and smiles.

Noah, my college student, is coming home in six days for a week over Thanksgiving. And, I’m struck by the fact that when he was three or five, I was overwhelmed by his bedding and laundry and cleaning up boy pee. Yet, this week, my list includes stripping his bed and washing it, so he comes home to a fresh bed. Dusting and vacuuming his room, so it’s clean. Cleaning the upstairs bathroom. The Schwan man was here Monday, and I got all his favorite foods. And no, I don’t work fulltime anymore, so there is more time; but, I’m also twenty years older, and I tire a lot more quickly now.

We just moved to the house we currently reside in in late July. Noah went to school in early August for a special program, and has been home twice in four months, once when I was in Las Vegas. I went down for a few hours a few weeks ago, took him to lunch and bought him shampoo. He has only spent eight nights in this house. I want it to feel like home.

So, we had a conversation this week, just one of those unexpected things that makes a mom a little weepy. Noah wanted to know if we had anything to decorate the outside of the house with for Christmas, as he proclaimed that this house had the perfect front porch and yard. I had to tell him that I had lost custody of all of those things, but that we could buy some stuff. He shared with me that he had always wanted to “really do it up,” and he sent me a link to one of those houses that you see on TV or in a rich neighborhood tour of a house pulsing with lights accompanied by matching music. The thing he sent me was $900. And I laughed and said no. And, then I asked if he could find one that did the same thing at less than half the price. So, he did.

Between classes, and treating bloody noses at WVU wrestling practice, studying for tests and doing his laundry, he found a similar system waaaayyyy cheaper. I bought that sucker today.

Ok, so in “Perfect World Mommy Mind,” this is what is going to happen: Noah will come home Friday night, eat a homemade dinner, unpack his stuff, and tear into the box of electronic wonderment. He will come up with a plan and figure out how many strings of lights we need. On Saturday we will go shop for lights and whatever else he wants, but we will need to be done early. We need to go to Franklin Light Up Night to watch the parade, because Eli is in Madrigal singers, and we need to watch him sing like an angel. Then fireworks, and home. On Sunday, Noah and Eli will have several friends over to help decorate. I will provide pizza and soft drinks, while my home is filled with happy teens, and by evening, I will have the most beautiful Christmas decorations that I get to enjoy for 6 weeks. It is my hope that it is nice enough for parents to bundle up their kids, take them for a drive, and intentionally cruise slowly past my house.

In the real world, I’m expecting National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (one of my favorite movies of all time.) The mechanical do-hickey won’t arrive on time, we will not be able to find enough strings of matching lights, my son will ask for a drum roll, plug it in and….it won’t work or will blow the transformer for the entire neighborhood. He will cuss like a sailor. Either way, memories are going to be made, and ten years from now there will be stories to tell.
All of those things that were once a pain in my rear are now how I show my love and devotion to my kids. At some point during this visit, my adult son will pull me into his arms and hug me. A big man bear hug. And I… I will be transported.

That hug will be everything. Worth every butt wipe, every toy picked up, every homework agonized over.

Seasons change, as does our role as a parent. I love this season of my life!


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