Ed Sheeran’s Castle on the Hill is Making Me Ugly Cry this Mother’s Day

It’s all Ed Sheeran’s fault! If he and Benjamin Levin hadn’t written the Castle on the Hill  lyrics, I would still be silently making fun of all the mushy gushy moms out there. We all know moms who post pictures of their kids with captions like; ‘please stop time,’ or ‘how can my baby be 10 already?’. I’d still be the person who wondered why these moms want to freeze time. Especially, when that’s been proven scientifically impossible.  

Don’t get me wrong, I’m an extremely sentimental person. I cried when we traded in my mini-van, can’t bear to give away my son and daughter’s baby toys, and though they’re now 14 and 11, I still have both their birth announcements hanging on my refrigerator. Still, I’ve never been one to wish for time to freeze so that my kids don’t grow up and leave me.

Until now.

Maybe it’s because in the fall my son will start high school and my daughter will enter middle school. Maybe it’s because my son will get his driver’s permit in less than a year. Maybe it’s because for the first time in nine years, I will not be dropping off a kid at our cozy little neighborhood elementary school. Maybe it’s the fact that four years from now I’ll be attending my son’s high school graduation. Maybe it’s all these milestones hitting at once. Maybe it’s because I’m beginning to grasp that so much of motherhood is fleeting. Whatever the reason, I’ve finally cracked.

I can’t listen to Ed Sheeran’s Castle on the Hill without tearing up. Sometimes, if I’m alone in the car, I will full-out ugly cry when his song hits the airwaves. Every time Ed belts out “I can’t wait to go home,” I lose it. Memories flood every crevice of my mind and I  begin reflecting upon my  last 14 years of motherhood.

I see my 2-year-old son playing with trains on an empty living room floor as my husband and I check out the house we hope to buy. I hear me say, with my trademark flare for over-analyzing, “If we buy this house, we’re basically determining our son’s future. This is where he’ll go to school, make friends, and create his childhood memories……this is not a decision to be made lightly.”

I see us taking the plunge, buying the house, and carving out our life on a tranquil, suburban tree-lined street. I recall us moving in and not being able to turn my back on my mischievous toddler for a second, lest he swallow a penny, or tumble down the stairs. I remember always having a baby or toddler in my sight. I recall longing for a precious sliver of alone time away from a pint-sized shadow. The days felt like an endless blurry loop of cleaning toys, changing diapers, and emptying the dishwasher.

Then, Ed demolishes me with his chorus:

Found my heart and broke it here
Made friends and lost them through the years
And I’ve not seen the roaring fields in so long, I know I’ve grown
But I can’t wait to go home”

I think about all the childhood sleepovers I hosted. I knew exactly which fuzzy blanket each friend liked best, or who wanted pancakes for breakfast. I see my son’s friend crying over a broken party favor when he was four and remind myself that this boy now towers over me. I think about the decade I’ve spent with the parents of my son and daughter’s friends. Together, we’ve watched them play sports, attended dance recitals, carpooled, coordinated playdates, and orchestrated summer camp plans. Slowly, we parents are being extracted from the equation. Playdates have been traded for text message swapping between the tweens and teens. Carpools are a thing of the past and independent group bike rides around town are the norm. Day camp has morphed into overnight camp.

And the Ed gives me a sneak peek of what’s around the corner;

Fifteen years old and smoking hand-rolled cigarettes
Running from the law through the backfields and getting drunk with my friends
Had my first kiss on a Friday night, I don’t reckon that I did it right
But I was younger then, take me back to when”

Soon, my son and his friends will start high school. These boys, whom I’ve known since pre-school, have deep voices, hairy legs, and swear like truck drivers. Bike rides will give way to driving (gasp) and before I blink, packing for overnight camp will transform into setting up a college dorm room. This is precisely the way it should be and what every parent hopes for their child. But that doesn’t mean a small sliver of my heart doesn’t break each time we check off a milestone.

Then, the ugly crying begins:

One friend left to sell clothes
One works down by the coast
One had two kids but lives alone
One’s brother overdosed
One’s already on his second wife
One’s just barely getting by
But these people raised me and I can’t wait to go home”

I consider how my son and daughter may drift apart from their childhood friends. They may go their separate ways and live vastly different adult lives. Their worlds will expand far beyond our tree-lined suburban street and the time they spent in our quaint little elementary school will be a distant memory. The sleepovers, sports teams, dance classes, camp bonfires, and bike rides will be long since forgotten. Time is speeding up and my family of four will not always live under one roof. My former self; the over analytical 30-year-old was right. Her son and daughter did cultivate friendships and create memories and so did she. I can only hope that though their childhood will fade and grow cloudy, they’ll always feel like a piece of them can’t wait to go home.



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