You should have been there.
You should have seen it.
The first smile that truly swept across my face and I couldn’t hide it if I had tried.
I bet it is hard for parents to watch their children grow up and move away. You have this person who you instilled in your wisdom and love and big dreams. From the day they were born, you had it all planned out. The great grades, home-runs, and visiting them on their college campus, all of it happened so quickly, right? It all went accordingly, right?
Good, but did you see it?
Did you catch it?
Do you remember your child bringing home a praise-worthy report card or do you remember your child’s face when you told them how incredibly proud you were to be their parent? I know your kid could have been an all-star athlete and you were probably at every game, but do you remember the excitement in their voice when they told you about winning first-place at the school art show? Were you listening when they were dancing around singing their favorite lyrics at their favorite band’s concert? I know you thought they were crazy! I mean who knew your child could head bang with the best of them? I bet you didn’t.
Not because you weren’t paying attention or you didn’t care, but the truth is people get wrapped up in the idea of a perfect moment or their own agendas. The truth is you could have been so focused on winning the game that you didn’t notice the look of disappoint when he or she thought she let the team down.
Or when your child’s best friends gradually changed and you’re still stuck in 4th grade.
Or when you are so happy to post on Facebook the accomplishment that you missed the entire event.
You should have seen it.
The truth is, your child is growing and evolving into a person you could possibly be missing.
The truth is, I’m sitting here, tears in my eyes, starring at this Clemson sunset, over the stadium, on a Sunday evening. My hands grip around the gates and if I stick my arm out, I can almost touch Howard’s Rock. I remember the first time I stood on that hill and some kind stranger must have known it was my first game because he let me in front of everyone and I was right behind the field goal. I watched the football players run down the hill and the cannon went off.
You should have seen it.
Just a small town girl, living her university dreams with the HAPPIEST smile on her face and freedom in her heart. I was all dolled up in orange with my pearls on and nice fella escorting me. I spent all morning getting ready for my first game and exploring the campus! Every part of me felt like a little girl again and in front of me was nothing, but possibility. It was hands down a “dance all day and not care about anything else” kind of day!
You should have seen it. It was unbelievable.
The tears rolls down and I take a deep breath. I remember how this silly dream began in 8th grade. I remember walking out of my first FFA competition and winning my last. Man, THAT is an amazing feeling when you put in years of work and watch it all unfold in your favor. I remember staying up until sunrise with the best of people at a small camp in Mississippi and thinking that this is all there is and I really do have an amazing life. I remember VIP access and meeting the most inspirational people and being in complete disbelief that this was my life.
You should have seen it. Whoa, It was wild.
Oh, and that time my senior year at church when all of the parents came a prayed over the graduates and I was alone…. Until my guidance counselor put her arms around me and bowed her head. There is not a better feeling then when someone who you thought barely noticed you, comes and prays over your future, sincerely. God smiled down that morning.
You should have seen it. My heart was forever grateful.
And let’s not forget when I went through Clemson orientation as a first-generation University student(Whoop! Whoop!) and while it seemed like I was the only one on campus who was winging back herself…. I had the time of my life. I rode the CAT bus for the first time and ate in the cafeteria and sang like a real Clemson Tiger. I got lost on the way to the registration building and as usual, got approved for classes I shouldn’t have gotten into. I have a knack for that turns out!
You should have seen it. It was great day and one for the books.
And my first job interview.
And my first real job.
And my first internship.
And that time I took an alligator to the “hippie closet”.
And when we had “Girls v. Boys” night at Church Street Apartments.
And the nights my heart was torn to pieces.
The night everyone left.
You should have seen it because all of these moments… Every moment that was worth a text, photo, tweet, Facebook share, and each one was holding so much more than what you could have never known- unless you were there.
What I’m trying to say is, do not get so caught up in the theory of having fun memories and taking all of these photos, that you actually miss what is happening in front of you, or what you are missing when you don’t show. Listen to your kid when he or she wants to ride the pony at the fair, or when they are quiet around a certain someone. Don’t be blind to them being sincere in their actions. Also, there is a reason your child asked you to be there and the reason you weren’t, hardly even matters when you compare the two.
I see countless parents walking around with their heads in their phones and cameras and forget that there is a real human being experiencing life in front of them and they are missing it. Quit having your own agenda and start jumping in the photos.
Tell them you missed them in their shining moment and you kept them close to your heart.
And when your child, who is now or will be an adult, runs up to you or calls about the day they had- take to heart when he or she says “You should have been there”.