I've been sad on and off for the past two weeks since Danny started kindergarten.
The first few days at home alone in this house, the silence I had been craving for so long was so oppressively void of companionship that I was driven to distraction. I missed having a little person in the other room as I wrote, watching PBS and opening packages of cheddar cheese or calling for me to play cards or get him something. But on the flip side of that was my counting of the hours to gauge how much longer I had in peace to write and complete projects. For I have quickly learned that the hours still fly, no matter the tasks or noises that fill them.
An era of my life is over. Just writing that I can feel the tears surfacing. Have I relished my time with my little ones while they were little? Many a time an older woman in the grocery or discount store admonished me to do just that, to savor the moment, their age! But have I? Did I? So many times it felt like I was chaffing, like I was negotiating for more freedom, more peace, more quiet.
Now I may still say to my beautiful children often "Come on, Babies!" or "Time to go, Babies", but I know that none of them are actually babies anymore. Not even my forever baby, Danny Sam. He may kiss me and press my hair into his face in front of schoolmates, but he's not a baby any longer.
There have been many instances these past two weeks when I felt the change in my life and mourned the passage of time:
when Daniel's eyes got moist as he was lining up to walk into his classroom for the first time
when I walked through the mall in the middle of the day to return clothes All By Myself, feeling like I'd lost part of my identity
when Daniel lost another tooth
when I read some of my old posts about the kids to edit them and didn't remember the things I wrote about, then wondered how many opportunities to record their wealth of funny or adorable antics I had squandered
when I couldn't remember the hilarious way in which little Daniel ribbed his big brother, just as brothers should, several days ago
when I talked to the volunteer coordinator at my kids' school and told her I now had time to volunteer regularly, because all four of my children attend school
when I read Dear Boy by Susannah Lewis yesterday and got all choked up
when I dropped my oldest boy, Berto, off at middle school again this morning
So often as mothers we want to get past this stage or that in the lives of our children, because it is just so demanding or exhausting. But when we do get past it, because it slides almost imperceptibly into our rear view or parades out of sight with lots of fanfare, we wish we could have experienced all the joys - and, yes, even the challenges if it means we could have coped better - of that developmental stage a little longer. Sometimes, we wish we had simply appreciated it and soaked it in more, all its messiness and all its glory.
But then we remember that our middle schooler still says "I love you" when he gets out of the car; our eldest daughter still holds our hand and talks to us on the walk to her classroom; our tomboy of a second grader still offers her cheek for a kiss and calls us, "Mama"; and our littlest, the forever baby, excitedly runs over to us, grinning, when he gets out of school.
Then we realize there are things to savor now and more joys and heartache to come, and we'll survive, for what a blessing it is to watch them grow up.
And some day, God willing, there will be lots of grandchildren.
I now more fully understand just what my dad was writing about in his popular post, The Wonder (of so many) Years.
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