FAIRMONT — To Royce Lyden, it seems like just yesterday that her children, Michael and Taylor, were 9 and 8, and moving into their brand-new house.
Now here they are, 20 and 19, all grown up and going to college.
So Royce knows the time your children are home with you is gone like that.
“The most important thing I can tell new parents is to savor every moment you have with your children,” she said. “You think it’s going to last forever, but time with them passes so quickly.
“And then they’re out of the house. So I always made time with my children, no matter the activity.”
Taylor lives in Fairmont and has been accepted into the nursing program at Fairmont State. Michael lives in Huntington, where he studies applied mathematics and education at Marshall.
Royce is purchasing director at Fairmont Clinic.
At Fairmont Senior, the brother and sister were very active. Michael belonged to the band, the mathematics club and Key Club. Taylor was active in basketball and track. She tried volleyball but it just wasn’t her thing.
“Unfortunately before her senior year, she tore her meniscus and had to have four surgeries,” Royce said.
They were also both active in 4-H and Scouts, following some advice she gave them.
“If you care about your community, you will take care of it,” she told them.
“That’s the way I was raised. My parents instilled the value of simple respect of the Earth. You don’t litter or pollute. You don’t mistreat people or the planet.”
She also learned the value of family when she was young. Every Sunday, they’d all go to the park together.
“We may not have stayed together, but we always did something. This stressed the value of family. At the end of the day, if you don’t have anything else, you have family.”
While they were little, Michael and Taylor lived in the country. Playpals were not to be found. But they always had each other, a blessing, Royce said.
Later, they moved back to Fairmont, but still remained close. Royce found herself doing the “Mommy Shuffle”: taking one child here, picking up another there.
“It got to be difficult to keep up. That’s why I was so excited when one of them learned to drive!” she chuckled.
As a single parent, she relied on her parents to “help fill in the gaps,” she said. She also learned to trust other parents to pick up or drop off her children when she couldn’t.
It’s all part of being a mom.
“It’s the greatest blessing that I could give life to someone else, and see them develop and live out the values they’ve been taught,” she said.
In 2001, the Lydens moved into a Habitat for Humanity house. In a way to pay this back, every spring break Michael goes on Habitat trips. Royce misses him then but is glad he does it.
“Plus, it’s a learning experience for him. He grew up without a dad ... we were divorced ... and I’m sure he’s learning things. I think it’s more than just giving back.”
Michael is a bit like her, Royce said — set in his ways.
“It’s his way first,” she said. “We conflict a lot because we’re so much alike.
“Taylor is exceptionally caring and is easy to get along with. Michael would do anything for her. He’s always been protective of her. They’re very close.”
Even though Taylor is just minutes away and Michael just a few hours, the house is emptier without them.
“It’s much quieter,” Royce said. “I do miss it when it was not so quiet.”
She’s fought and won the Battle of Being a Parent. And you can, too, she said.
“You’re gonna make it! It’s hard to let them find things out on their own, but it’s best for their development. So what if they do things differently than you do? It’s OK.
“Open, honest communication is a big deal. You have to know their friends. I always tried to do things that would bring kids to the house. We have this fire pit in the yard. Sometimes we’d roast marshmallows or talk and sing, or just look at meteor showers.”
As her children pursue their grown-up lives, she wishes them happiness and success.
“And that doesn’t mean having a lot of money or things,” she said. “It’s having a peace with life, doing your best no matter the circumstances.
“It hurts when they go, but you get used to it. That’s the way it’s supposed to be.”
A friend explained it like this.
“It’s like they’re astronauts. When they leave the planet, you don’t have contact with them. And when they return to home base, eventually you have full contact.”
Email Debra Minor Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org.