Amber hues of moody blues

When I was a kid, I had a mood ring that was perpetually blue, signifying contentment and peace. That is, unless my younger sister was getting into my stuff; then it would turn as black as the midnight sky

It’s a good thing I haven’t been wearing a mood ring the past few weeks because the color would be amber, and that simply does not match anything in my wardrobe.

Amber signifies nervous, mixed emotions, and an unsettled feeling. It started last month when my sixteen-year-old daughter was accepted into a foreign exchange program. I was secretly hoping for Canada or Arkansas, but in August, she will be leaving for an eleven month stay in Australia. In case your geography is a little rusty, that is clear on the opposite side of the world.

On the heels of this, my twenty-year-old daughter announced that she is applying for a study abroad program in Morocco. Morocco has been deemed the safest of the North African countries, so she is not the least bit worried. She’s thinking Casablanca, and I’m thinking guerilla warfare.

Also, in August, our eighteen-year-old son will be leaving the nest. Thankfully, Purdue University is right here in good old Indiana, but his bedroom will be empty for months. In order to keep a semblance of normalcy about my mornings, I will probably wake up every night and litter the family room with empty ice cream bowls, dirty socks, and crushed Coke cans

I still have two little ones, so technically I’m not dealing with empty nest syndrome. I try to remind myself that with texting and Facebook, it’s almost like my daughters won’t even be out of the country. Half of our communication is through text anyway. I’m guilty of texting instead of hollering up the stairs to let them know dinner is ready.

But there are many changes on the horizon, and it leaves me nervous and unsettled. Amber.

I knew the kids had to grow up, I just didn’t realize it would happen so soon. Back in the late 90s, somebody tried to warn me. Who was it? Oh yeah. It was the old ladies at church.

Keeping my little ones quiet and still during the sermon was an exercise in frustration. Each week, as I dejectedly herded my bedraggled little crew of misfits to the van, a wrinkled hand would rest upon my arm, and an earnest voice would encourage, “These are the best days of your life. It goes by so quickly.”

Sometimes, I wanted to punch them, but I didn’t because they were elderly.

And we were in church.

But I was exhausted, and most of the time I felt as though I was failing as a parent. It was not encouraging to hear that was as good as life would get.

Soon I realized that the first times were fading, and the last times were going unnoticed.

When was the last time I read a storybook to my now sixteen-year-old daughter?


When was the last time my eighteen-year-old son reached up to hug me instead of bending down?

alex tree

When did my twenty-year-old daughter stop making us check her bed for spiders?

shelby flower

Oh wait. She still does that whenever she’s home.

The old ladies were right. The time went by so quickly. Soon, those three babies will be leaving for Australia, Morocco, and West Lafayette. For the most part, I will trust the Lord to guide and care for them. But since I’m human, I know there are times when I will forget to trust, and my mood will become amber. In the meantime, I intend to relish every moment with the two little ones. And next year, when my entire brood is home again, I might buy a mood ring, because blue goes with just about everything in my closet.

One of those rare days when we were all under the same roof!

One of those rare days when we were all under the same roof!

About Ginger Truitt

Ginger is an author, speaker, and mother of five. Her award-winning newspaper column appears weekly across the Midwest. Recently, she was also published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Parenthood.


  1. Kenneth Barnhouse says:

    I love this. We all had to go thru this. When ours got a little older, supper time was the highlight of my day.I would come home from work, and we would all be at the table. Oh the chatter that would go on about the days events. To soon, one by one they started dissapearing to different school events, and before I knew it I was eating supper by myself. Evening was my wife’s work out time at the health spa. She would have supper ready and take off.
    Best of luck with your kids, and I love reading your stories.

  2. Oh, my word. I loved this and so appreciated it! As a mommy in the season of bedraggled moments leaving church…I loved the reminder to savor the ‘first times’ and ‘last times’. Thanks, Ginger!

  3. Ginger,

    You just totally made me cry. Contemplating my much too grown-up 13-year-old son leaving home is completely impossible for me right now. I guess as you said, it has to happen eventually, but you really don’t expect it when they’re young. I will hold my babies extra tight today. 🙂

    • The teen years are a blur of joy! My son’s best friend, who is actually 20 now, was standing in our kitchen the other day, laughing with the whole gang. He commented, “I’m going to miss this so much come August!” That nearly made me cry! Be in the moment as much as possible!

I'd love to hear from you!