Our youngest-- and smallest-- at two days old.
I remember my first pregnancy like it was just yesterday. No sooner had I taken the pregnancy test when I declared that we were having a boy. I looked at those two purple lines and wondered how they’d twist and turn to form the map of his life.
It makes my heart ache to conjure up those memories because I blinked, and that baby will be 10 in a few weeks.
Sometimes, when I think back on my kids as babies and toddlers, it makes my breath catch because those days are gone and I can’t reverse time.
We had four kids in less than six years. People would always tell me to enjoy them when they were young because time goes by so fast. I would smile and nod, but I was so tired that a big part of me couldn’t wait for them to be older.
I’ll feel better when the baby sleeps through the night. Things will be much easier when she can feed herself. When he learns to dress himself, our mornings will be less chaotic. When they aren’t toddlers I’ll be able to get more done.
Motherhood is about seasons. In many ways, each one is better and more challenging than the one before it.
The exhausted mom of babies and toddlers will soon be the taxicab driver-mom of kids in extra-curricular activities and eventually, the mom worried about her teens making the right choices and driving safely. In time, she’ll be the mother anxiously waiting for the college acceptance letter and years down the road, the mother-in-law and the grandmother.
Motherhood, organized into seasons.
When my “baby” turns 10 this month, he’ll be a double-digit, never a single-digit again.
I look at my oldest daughter and think back to when she was 2. That entire year she walked around with one arm pulled out of the sleeve of her shirt and through the neck hole, because it looked “bettuh.”
I distinctly remember looking at the infant-version of my youngest son and wondering, “What will he be like when he starts school?” and figuring it didn’t matter because I had so much time until then. He’s almost done with kindergarten and I’m trying to gather up the last six years in my arms because the wind carried them off somewhere and I desperately want to hang on to the memories.
Our youngest, almost 5.
This year, during the last languid week of August, our youngest will march into her kindergarten classroom with her Disney princess backpack (already, the child knows what she wants), find her spot on the carpet and wave good-bye.
And I will stay until the last possible moment, hiding behind my camera, and smile at the other parents as I make my way to the car. And if I’m lucky I’ll make it home before the tears fall hard.
Of course I’ll volunteer in their classrooms and continue doing things with the PTO, but it won’t be the same without at least one kid home during the day.
I know I’m not alone in this. Schools across the valley are starting kindergarten registration this month.
Surely other local moms will find themselves in the coming weeks, filling out papers with a brave face, but grasping for their kids’ youngest days.
As we were heading out the door this morning for my daughter’s kindergarten physical, I got a call from the pediatrician’s office. Her appointment had to be rescheduled for Monday.
“Yes! Yes! That’s fine. No problem!” I nearly shouted over the phone to a startled nurse. I was relieved to put it off, even if it is just a few extra days.
I have a friend whose oldest will be 16 on Monday and another friend who is starting to wean her child off the pacifier. They’re both sad. Their babies aren’t babies anymore.
That’s what makes milestones triumphant celebrations, cause for reflection and painfully final.
If you’re a new mom and another mom tells you to enjoy your children while they’re young because time flies by, believe her. You may regret it if you don’t.
Important information for parents of soon-to-be kindergartners:
According to Senate Bill 1381, passed Sept. 30, 2010, eventually children will have to be 5 before entering kindergarten. The age-requirement is being drawn-back over time. If you are registering your child in kindergarten for the 2013-2014 school year, they must be 5 prior to October 1, 2013. For the 2014-2015 school year, children must be 5 prior to September 1, 2014. Many California schools have established transitional kindergarten classes for children who won’t be 5 by the cut-off date. Check with your local district for more information.