Life happens at a rapid pace, and there is no better illustration than watching life fly past you in the heart of any city, let alone central London.
Just returning from traveling to London on my own with my two boys, ages 8 and 11, I am thankful for the perspective and clarity I received while on our holiday. Before going to London, I knew it would be a special time for us. We are at a crossroads. One of many coming at an even pace like mile post signs you drive past along a highway. My eldest enters middle school this year, and my youngest enters third grade, the middle point of elementary school.
I've already visited Independence with both boys, and Adulthood is now viewable on the horizon for my eldest. As a woman who loves "Mommyhood" more than I ever could have imagined, I see it beginning to blur into the passing scenery just as we approach Motherhood, where my name will permanently be "Mom," and the needs of a "Mommy" are seen less and less.
Traveling internationally alone with two children makes you stretch as a mother. Not only did I watch my boys mature and age overnight, but I felt myself growing too. Previous fears were washed away by new found confidences and trust in myself, which translated to the ever elusive action many of us mothers struggle to take with our children. The act of "letting go."
The moment I realized my boys and I were at this midpoint was in the middle of rushing to grab a tube at the Westminister tube station. Travelcards in hand. My boys were in the lead. I watched as each of them so deftly inserted their ticket and quickly snatched it back, in turn releasing the gates of the turnstile for each of them to move forward. The symbolism didn't go unnoticed. This was only our second ride on the tube and they already adopted the body language, walking speed and flick of the wrist of a Londoner who rides the tube daily. As we approached the crossroads of which tube line to take, I had taken the lead. Ever so suddenly, my eldest yells, "Hey Mom! You're going the wrong way. It's this way. Follow me." That was the moment. I am their mother. I will forever be their coach, teacher and when needed most, their Mommy, but now it's time for me to let them lead.
I spent the rest of the trip watching their backs as they marched along in front of me. Occasionally they would wander off course and I would yell a direction from behind to get them back on track. I imagine this is how the next years will be spent. Letting them lead, yet being close behind to help them when they take that occasional wrong turn.
Our last day was spent riding the tube into London to take in the show Stomp in London's West End. Just me and my boys. Sitting on a crowded train with my arms draped over their shoulders and feeling the gentle rocking of the train, I knew that these moments would become rarer once we returned home.
After the show, we walked the streets of London one last time before leaving and ended up in Leicester Square. Rather than being a tourist taking in the sights of a crowded city square, I found myself taking in the sights of my boys. Watching them absorb life as it moved before them with the awe and curiosity you only see in children. I memorized every feature, and for a quick nostalgic moment, wished I could stop time. Tears filled my eyes. I grabbed them both, breathed in their sweet scent while kissing their heads and said a quiet thank you for all that they were and all that they are becoming.
Then in a blink, they were off again and leading me home.