I wasn’t one of those moms who wept uncontrollably when her baby went to school for the first time. Don’t get me wrong-I might have grieved a tiny bit that my sweet baby that I held practically nonstop her first few months on this earth was big enough to go off without me and learn stuff. But I took it in stride.
But it hit me this morning that my second child, the baby, would be heading off to begin her scholastic career as a Kindergartener. And I wanted to bawl.
What happens to time? It’s like you blink and your oldest child is about to be seven, who wants her ears pierced and talks about having her own babies. Am I going to blink again and they’ll be going into high school? Will I have been paying attention to each spelling bee, every art project, memorizing their little faces when the light bulb comes on and EUREKA! – they learn something new? Will I have tried to, everyday, connect to them in some way and communicate to them how very special they are and how much they’re loved? I certainly hope so, because the alternative will make me crazy.
Is this just something mothers feel? How about you, dads? Do you choke up thinking about your kids growing up and moving off to start their lives? Do visions of weddings and grandbabies give you pause?
I used to keep a journal when Emma was a baby. Sometimes I wrote letters to her, sometimes it was just journaling what I was dealing with having a new baby. Being a parent is hard. You have this alien being that it’s up to you to care for in every way. As newborns, they’re relatively easy. I mean, you feed, burp, diaper and cuddle. The only really hard part is they do this every hour so sleep kind of becomes a prize. But it’s when they get older and need more that I had anxiety about. Did I feed them cereal? How much? What about table foods? What about allergies? Anyways, that’s what I journaled. My sweet sleeping creature began to be mobile and loved to turn off the computer, or pull books off the shelves. Cause and effect, I guess. She was a daredevil (still is!) and panicked me horribly when she would jump off the bed or climb on precarious furniture. That’s what I journaled about, too. I wrote a lot about how I wanted to be patient and not get so frustrated with this little person who had a will all of her own. How I was scared of what might happen if she got hurt. How much I wanted to be a good mom.
It’s funny, when I wrote all that, worried about all of that, never one time did it cross my mind to just enjoy each moment. To burn into my mind how she looked as a baby, or when she learned to laugh. And I kind of feel sad for that. Because she’ll never be that little sweet bundle again. It’s over. That time has passed and now we’re on to bigger and better things. She’s riding a bike now. No training wheels. She’s reading and writing. She can swim like a fish. She loves to make up songs and has a pretty good voice for a six year old. Emma is an awesome kid.
When I had Addie, I was worried all over again, but for different reasons. I so wanted Emma to never feel left out. I felt I needed to include her with everything. While I nursed Addie, I would read to Emma. If I snuggled with Addie, I kept the other arm free for Emma. It’s strange tho, Emma never really wanted that. She wanted to get up and run around and line up all her toys in bizarre rows and have pretend conversations with her stuffed animals. All that worry, again, was for nothing.
I’m not sure if all mothers of multiple children feel this way, but it feels like my baby grew up faster than my older child. Now Addie is swimming, learning to write her name in that sweet kid writing where the E on the end of her name is five times bigger than the A. So sweet. She’s singing songs and learning to joke. She and Emma have “knock-knock” joke marathons where the punch line makes not a lick of sense to me, but make them laugh hysterically and usually includes the word “poop”. To each their own, I guess.
I wish I could just freeze time for just a few minutes and really look at my girls. Memorize each freckle, each loose tooth. Because the next time I blink, I’m going to be watching them walk across a stage receiving a diploma, and I won’t have that chance anymore.