As the school year begins to dwindle, I’ve thought back to the start of this academic year. As those of you who’ve read my blog know, I struggled a bit (ok, a TON) when Abby started Kindergarten. I slowly and patiently prepared her, but forgot to prepare myself. Abby experienced not a moment of fear or apprehension—her confidence played the vibrant melody to my dissonant harmony.
I knew, even back then, that we’d (I’d) hit a stride during the school year despite my aching heart, gaping at the prospect of my baby heading to school each day. I was right—we found a great, rhythmic pace of learning, separation and growth, with daily regroupings to dissect the day. Abby’s joyful (albeit tired) embrace of school dragged me from my private doldrums into the role of joyful participant. Occasionally though, after I’d dropped Abby off at school, I’d linger and watch her disappear into the school building. Occasionally, my heart would break right open again (just as it did in August) and I’d wonder how we’d gotten to this point in her maturation. Now we’re a month away from summer break. The time, as they say, flies.
Henry will be three next month. He’s morphed from a chubby toddler to a young, bright, rambunctious boy. Abby is no longer a little girl. She’s stretched out, lost two teeth and her baby fat. I can see her ribs and knees. We’re reading science books with words like “courting” and “mating”.
(I have girlfriends, by the way, with daughters who have started puberty. In hushed voices, they confide about the physical changes of their daughters’ bodies. Seeing those daughters, with their bra straps showing subtly under their shirts, makes me gasp for air. Bra straps lead to first kisses, commencement speeches, young marriages and round baby bumps.)
As my own children grow, I understand that we are simultaneously years and moments away from these milestones. I experience brief glimmers and pangs of an empty nest—I realize that I prime my children for departures, journeys and landmarks, but often do not extend the same courtesy to myself. Hubby and I encourage the kids to grow and hope they will let go. But we don’t prepare our minds and hearts for our own empty hands. I fear, however, that if I start prepping myself for their not-so imminent exits into the big world, I will loose the peace and joy of the current minute.
So, I try to cherish the lumps and the loveliness of each stage of their lives. This presents a true challenge (especially when I’m wrangling a wet, almost 40 pound, exhausted and screaming Henry out of the tub, or when I’m dealing with a sassy, tired Abby). But I continue to attempt to strike a balance between fully appreciating the gift of each moment AND realizing that it won’t last forever.
For now, I will treasure this minute as both kids sleep under our roof. I’ll enjoy the scent of their baby wash on my hands, fresh from bathing those sweet angels who will awake before the sun tomorrow.