Milestones & Motherhood {for the mom whose kids are growing up too fast}

mothers day loot

Just a few short years ago, she couldn’t sit still during church if her life depended on it. But last Sunday, I glanced over at her copious notes neatly written in an array of colored ink during the sermon and I smiled. Here she is, age thirteen, with her various journals for Sunday morning and youth group and such. I never told her to take notes nor did I teach her how. Notes and journals and the need to make meaning of things, they just sort of showed up on the scene somewhere in the years between Polly Pocket and Instagram.

It’s been two years since I packed her lunch. I simply keep the pantry stocked and she does the rest, slicing her strawberries with meticulous precision and pouring the goldfish into the purple and turquoise container and making sure her yogurt sits right on top of the cooler pack. I made PB & Js for what felt like a lifetime but I can’t remember the last time I smeared peanut butter on a slice of bread for her.

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Last night the littlest guy — the one finishing kindergarten this week — loaded the dishwasher after dinner. I rinsed the dishes and handed the drippy forks and plates to him while he figured out the best arrangement. {Like a boss I might add.} He told us that if we need something done around here, just ask him — “President Business.” I’m not making that up.

Several months ago he quit calling us “Mommy” and “Daddy.” And just like that we became “Mom” and “Dad” to the baby of the family. It’s just not right. How does a child pack a lifetime’s worth of growing up into one short year?

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While I fixed dinner last night, the middle one — he’s ten — watched the news with his dad and I observed him talking with animated hands and using phrases like “The Obama Administration” and “foreign policy” and I’m thinking to myself, Who is this small-statured adult living in my house and who gave him permission to grow up anyway?

I recalled how he used grown-up words when he was two. Only he never got them quite right. “Blackberry Cobbler” was “Laspberry Coster.” Still, he tossed around these big words with all the authority and ease his munchkin toddler voice could muster. And then I blinked and he was on stage last week competing in the school spelling bee.

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Exactly one year from now {not that I’m wishing for it}, I’ll have a rising high schooler, a rising middle schooler, and a rising second-grader. Surely this is impossible because wasn’t I still changing diapers just a few months ago and nursing ’round the clock and teaching my now-teenager how to write her name and hold her pencil correctly?

Such is the lament of mothers everywhere who bring their babies home, survive the bleary-eyed preschool years, and then sprint like mad after the supersonic train carrying their wee ones into the future far more quickly than they’d agreed upon.

I’ve always been a wreck over milestones. I cry at the end of each school-year. I cry at birthdays. I blame it on the fact that I’m a historian by training so it’s natural for me to cling tightly to all things of the past and to forge fierce connections between our yesterdays and our todays. But regardless of why, I’m just nostalgic and sentimental at my core, a saver of everything from first-date movie tickets to All The Art Made With Small Hands. I often wish I wasn’t like this because it’s rather inconvenient, not to mention hoarder-ish.

But the years literally feel like they are sprinting past me and for whatever reason, I’m compelled to commemorate the milestones and preserve the artifacts that point to the beauty and evidence of our lives. If I can’t love and remember and learn from our everyday life together, I feel like I’ve stopped short.

I have to live and then I re-live. {This is the blessing and the curse of being a writer.}

Remembering days gone by and honoring the transitions of new chapters helps me savor the gifts of today.

It’s easy to wish for a bit more time in the past. It’s just as easy to fret over the future. I don’t know about you, but I have a tendency to live in both of those places, often at the expense of today.

It’s okay to get weepy over the passage of the baby’s kindergarten year. It’s also okay to anticipate the adventures and opportunities that await these growing-up-too-fast kids in the coming years. But I don’t want to miss the realness of today because my mind is camped out in yesterday or tomorrow.

As this school year ends and the fresh slate of a new summer begins, I simply want to notice and to be present — to acknowledge the inevitable changes of stretched-out legs and too-small Crocs and conversations with my kids that are decidedly more adult than last summer’s conversations.

But instead of grieving the growing-up, I long to be thankful for it.

I want to breathe in our days together and breathe out gratitude.

This passage of time, this marking of years, this wild and wonderful everyday — it is all as it should be and I am here, receiving the gift of watching it all unfold.

 

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Comments

  1. FancyNancy says

    The days are long but the years are short. I’m two days away from an emotional breakdown as #1 has a promotion ceremony to God-forsaken middle school. His first day of Kindergarten I barely held it together until we got out of the school. For #2, I barely batted an eye. He is the scholar and I had a toddler at home. So, next year about this time, I will face a summer knowing that my baby will be spending her last couple of months at home with me. I will be walking this line of dread and exhilaration. Because as a lovely mother from church, and you probably know her, said that every day as she and her Dad backed out the driveway with her 2 sisters and 1 brother on their way to school, her mother (who you also probably know) would jump up and click her heels! I get that. But I also will want to mourn. So, I better get busy enjoying the present!

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