Time Passages

I’m a fair-weather friend to my blog-- I only show up when it’s convenient for me. Also, I gossip about it when it’s back is turned.

Once again, my children have started a new school year, and my youngest, my baby, has started 4’s preschool. I know it’ll only be a matter of time before I’m dropping her off at college. See if you can guess which overused cliché fits here:

a) It seems like only yesterday she was learning to walk!
b) The house seems so empty without her!
c) I’m going to blink and 10 years will have gone by!
d) All of the above.

Here’s the irritating thing about clichés, though. They’re clichés for a reason, just like tourist attractions become popular for a reason. At the core of every cliché and every overcrowded tourist destination, there’s a little smidgen of truth. Disney World is a ridiculously fun place to go, and my home is so quiet you could hear a pin drop.

I don’t think I can contribute anything new or insightful to the www about being a parent, watching a child hit a milestone, but a blog is nothing if not a place to brain dump, so here goes:

My children are getting older and wiser at a shocking pace and there’s nothing I can do to stop it.

(Where are you going, my little one, little one…)

I’m afraid their childhood will disappear in an instant, and I’ll be left with a hard drive bursting with photos, guilt that I didn’t do more, be more, play more and nurture more, and an extra 35 pounds.

(Where are you going, my baby, my own…)

With every birthday and new school year, with every new concept they learn, they need me just a tiny bit less.

(Turn around and you’re two, turn around and you’re four…)

I’m terrified that if I don’t appreciate every moment, if I don’t give thanks for every dazzling smile, new discovery or proud accomplishment, however small, there will be payback.

(Turn around and you’re a young girl going out of the door.)

I have many older siblings who are wrestling with their children’s milestones, seemingly light-years away from mine. There’s another nephew greedily anticipating his driver’s license, a freshman finding her way around campus, a 19-year-old facing possible deployment, and two, potentially three wedding engagements in the same year. And I know this with utter certainty: as proud and frightened and thrilled my brothers and sisters are when they look at the sixteen children between them, I don’t think there’s one who wouldn’t give anything for just one more afternoon in the sun, watching their small child play at the beach, chasing waves and hermit crabs, putting a small hand in theirs and just plain needing them.

I can still do that with my children, but not for much longer. So I will wallow in it, this day of a comparably tiny milestone—my daughter’s first day of four-year-old preschool. Next year her brother goes to a new school for 3rd graders, and she starts kindergarten, and I will be in this place all over again, but with more grey hairs and melancholy. It’s my annual ritual; I feel if I don’t stop to pay homage to these important days in the lives of my children, they’ll go unnoticed. And someday when they’re driving to a job, finding a college classroom or walking down the aisle, I’ll wonder where the time went.

At least this way, I’ll know.


donna said...

Waaaah! This made me all teary.

Shamelessly Sassy said...

great post!