Blink of an Eye

How did they do that?  How did they go from girls with a little fold of fat at their wrists to the lovely little ladies belting out the end of the year choral song on the risers just now?

I had that moment every parent experiences, sitting in the hot elementary school auditorium and fanning myself with the program.  There they were.  My twins.  Not yet ladies, but no longer little girls. The roundness was less round, the softness less soft, the faces were on their way to being more angular and cheek-boned, the limbs on the verge of bolting.

These are the last of the litter.  And I’m rightly tired at 51.  Next week will be the 5th grade moving up ceremony (because we must celebrate and commemorate even the most basic rites of passage in society today) and then they will be off to middle school.  And I’m so OK with that.  I was not the mother who, on the first day of kindergarten, threw myself at the closing doors of the bus and beat the glass with my fists.   I was ready then too.

Some parents proscribe a genuine mourning period when their baby does something for the “last” time. But I am comfortable with progression; with where we all are now.  I don’t wish I’d had one more, as I’ve heard so many mothers lament.  I’m done.  And I’m OK admitting that.  One more only prolongs the inevitable question so many of us face — what are you going to do with the rest of your life and what makes you happy from inside?

I am unabashedly content to have come to the natural end of the “field days” and the field trips, the last of the choral concerts, the last of the hunker-down parent teacher conferences.  I’m done with hunting for misplaced library books, digging up PTO auction items and volunteering to paint scenery for the school play.  I’m thrilled I don’t have to figure out what healthy snack to pack each day.   I am ready to lay down the more physical demands of the younger years, the books read aloud at night, the fighting for the front seat, the organizing and scheduling every event.  I am ready for the more cerebral challenges of the tween years, even the ones that involve attending to the heartbreaks of the adolescent world.

Am I nostalgic?  Sure.  Mothering young kids passed in the proverbial blink of an eye.  But there was also the routine of it, the slow and weighty increments of time spent ministering to a family’s needs.  I can still see myself, mired in the bewitching hours, after dinner and before bedtime.  The twins were in diapers and the older children had homework needs, some nights it was the mother’s grave yard of desperation before the relief team returned from the office.  Yes, I’ve thrilled as my children have become more self-sufficient.  I’m ready for them to pick up their own messes, to learn to run the laundry, to stop fighting over who gets the front seat.

Passages in life demand acceptance.  And while some of us move to the next phase with greater difficulty, I am comfortably nostalgic observing my babies growing up.

And as their beautiful little bow mouths form a perfect “O” on the last of their three songs, I smile…. for so many different reasons, all too tangled together to properly articulate.

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