My sweet boy,

This week I was able to pick you up at school. Most of the time you have to walk home because I work a little too far away to make it back in time. I know that you’re old enough and that the walk is good exercise, but I still miss the days when I would wait for you and your sister every day in the parking lot. I’d watch you walk across the field and know that you were headed my way, and my heart would be so happy.

As I waited this time at the “broken-link in the fence-by-the-pool” that you always climb through, I had a really startling thought. This would be the last time I would ever pick you up from school. Being the over sentimental mom that I am, the tears started flowing and I immediately started looking back at all the other times I’ve sat and waited and watched for you to come.

I remembered…

The first morning of kindergarten when I tearfully left you with your giant backpack in a cute little line up with a teacher I had just met. I cried all the way home then came back early, and anxiously stood outside on the tarmac waiting to see your sweet face.

The time you got upset in Grade 1 and decided to leave all on your own at lunch and walk to your Nonna’s house down a busy road. I picked you up a little upset because you scared me and made my heart race, but also with relief that you were ok. You were happy because she made you pasta.

When your teacher had to talk to me after class, because you were out of control. She said you spit on someone which horrified me to no end. That was a bit of an angry pick up day, but I still brought you home.

When it was your birthday and I stood outside the car blowing a horn with a cupcake just to make you feel special (and embarrassed).

The time you were old enough to walk across the field and come meet me at the car and it started to thunder out.  You ran faster than I’ve ever seen, screaming all the way –  terrified you were going to get hit by lightening.

When I watched you throw your coat up in a tree and get it stuck. Then, you threw your backpack up to get the coat and that got stuck. Then I decided I should stop laughing and come help you.

Watching with a full heart as you waited for your little sister after the bell, and held her hand as you walked together across the playground.

Your first day at a new school. Searching for your face, praying I’d see a smile and that you made some friends.

When our precious sweet friend passed away, and I picked you up early and we all just cried together in the car.

When your life got disrupted again and you had to move in high school and it was so hard, but you’d be brave and tell me your day was good, even though I knew it wasn’t.

The times I’d show up early and spring you out, just for fun and to be a mom hero.

When you’d just had football practice and you smelled like one million dirty socks.

So many times I’ve sat and waited for you.

I wonder how many hours parents wait for kids? I’m sure I’ve spent a good 1/4 of your life waiting for you.

But here’s the thing.

I’ve loved every minute. I wouldn’t trade those hours looking for you to come around the corner for anything.

In a couple months everything is going to change around here. I won’t be waiting for you after school. Or after work. Or listening for the car to pull in to the driveway to know you are home.

Instead, I’ll be waiting for weekends when you visit. Holidays when you get to stay longer, facetime so we can talk, texts that say you need some money and holding my breath until next summer so we can all be together again for a whole four months.

I’ll miss our little broken-fence in the pool-parking-lot pick ups. That’s why I cried the other day and made you take a dorky picture.

No matter where you go, home is waiting for you. I’m warning you that I might break out the horns and cupcakes the first couple times, because I want you to know that there will always be a celebration when you come back.

You just tell us when you’re coming.

Or show up anytime.

We’ll always be waiting for you.