My mother always told me to savor every minute, because once you have children, time flies by faster than you can keep up with. Of course, I didn’t know what she was talking about until I did, indeed have children of my own.
Tomorrow, my eldest daughter enters the 3rd grade, and my little one starts kindergarten. How did this happen? I remember so clearly bringing my baby girl home from the hospital after a freak snowstorm in November 2003. I drove us home myself, as she had spent a couple of extra days in the nursery under billi lights for jaundice, following her 44 hour labor that ended up with about 8 friends in the delivery room with us, my mom on the phone from Texas, my doctor, a specialist OB, several nurses, and somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 residents. It was quite the party. No wonder this kid loves attention. Her dad had to go back to work after 3 days, and his mom was picking up my mom from the airport when we were due to be discharged, so I just went home with my newborn princess in her sweet pink blanket, amidst a blanket of snow in Washington.
If I close my eyes, I can remember that moment like it was happening now. Not almost eight years ago. Now my girl is this tall, beautiful, sassy thing who wears adorable pink/red glasses and sports an impressive number of permanent teeth in the front of her grill. She’s got freckles across her nose, green eyes like her mama, a love of all things equine (also like her mama), and the most sensitive soul. She’s crazy smart and slapstick funny. I can’t wait to walk her into her class, where three of her best friends from 2nd grade will be waiting. Oh, I’m anticipating lots of little girl squeals and hugs. Super awesome girlie style.
Right now, it’s hard for me to think of my baby girl going to kindergarten. This is a rite of passage, where a child leaves behind the last bit of her infancy aside and just becomes a kid. As a mother, this alternately delights and devastates me. This child is such a mini-me in personality. She has the driest humor I’ve ever seen in a non-adult, a love of wearing skirts and cowboy boots, and likes things done her way, because her way, of course is the right one. Did I mention she’s also a Virgo like me?
Now, this baby set the rules from day one. I tried like Hell to make her come before my birthday on August 31, since we had already met our insurance deductible, and it would be lost on September 1. She was due September 5. And I went into labor at 2am September 5. Got to the hospital, epidural, a mild labor, 20 minutes of pushing, and out came this perfect little person. Who wouldn’t cry. She just looked at everyone like, “What? Do you need something from me?”
This is the girl who will crawl under a table and fall asleep when she’s tired, while her sister fights sleep with every ounce of her being. She has a wicked bullshit meter and has mastered “the look” when grown ups try to tell her something that she knows is crap. She’s also the mayor at school. Last year, I would drop her off at pre-k, and she asked me to stop walking her inside the building. I would sit out front, watching my tiny little person stop to greet teachers, parents, other kids, ask about their day, tell them she liked their outfits, and leave them smiling in her wake.
While my older child is a pleaser, and needs validation from others quite a bit, who gets her heart broken when someone is unkind, my little one just doesn’t. She has a confidence that astounds me.
Tonight, my heart is full, and I’m feeling a bittersweet nostalgia. I am so incredibly blessed to wake up every day and call these babies mine. But they aren’t babies any longer, which is why more than one tear has slipped down my cheek as I write this blog. Sometimes I miss their tiny little baby selves so much it hurts. I miss the smell of their hair after I bathed them in the sink, the sound of their baby giggles, their squishy little thighs…
I used to think that it would be different when they got older, that every day wouldn’t be a new milestone, that they would stop changing and growing so quickly. But it hasn’t. They do something to amaze me every single day, and I know I must have done something right in my life to have earned the role of their mother.
As I type this, new backpacks are filled, school supplies labeled, fancy first day outfits are laying on the end of their beds, lunches made and my girls are sacked out with sponge rollers in their hair. And I’m preparing to do this big day tomorrow alone for the first time. Kind of weird, but I think we’ll be OK. I’m going to have the girls call their daddy on the way to school so he can be a part of it, too.