I was surprised to find myself blinking back tears as I drove past the school of my oldest child. The reason I was surprised? It was a whole year before she would even be attending kindergarten at that school. Yet every time I drove past her future school, I was filled with grief and nostalgia for her swift-moving childhood.

Of course, I wasn’t even a teeny bit shocked when her actual first day of kindergarten left me panicked and sad. We quickly found ourselves in a kindergarten routine, however, and I loved sending her off each day to learn and enjoy life.

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As 1st grade began to be a spot on the horizon, I felt that panicked and sad feeling again. All day school? Could she really handle it? Of course she could. But could I? When I look back, I sometimes think 1st grade was a harder transition than kindergarten. It was a grand entrance into the big world of big kids. As much as I want to be past this exhausting stage of little needy children, I also absolutely don’t want them growing even a second older.

But just like kindergarten, it didn’t take long until we were in a normal 1st grade routine, sans tears from her mama (most days).

Lydia, first day of 1st grade, 2014 8

So as 2nd grade neared this year, I patted myself on the back for my composure. I wasn’t sad; I was eager to see her return to her friends and routine because I know how good it is for her. Plus, I decided I’m ok with the growing older thing now, ok(?), so thanks for asking.

And then the principal sent a recorded message to all the parents two days before school with instructions for the first day. “Every teacher will be outside wearing the school colors,” the message said. “Tell your children that if they’re lost, they can look for a teacher wearing that color.”

Lost?

“But don’t worry!” she continued. “The teachers are going to be looking specifically for kids who may be too shy to ask for help.”

Too shy to ask for help? All I could think of was my sweet little 2nd grader (Ohmygosh, she’s a 2nd grader! Who is the jerk who came and pulled out the rug from under me?) standing in a crowded sea of bigger kids, feeling lost and alone. And I was suddenly supremely sad at sending my sweet child into the world again.

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The message ended, and my husband looked at me. Seeing my face fall, he wrapped me in a hug, and I felt my shoulders shudder as the sobs started. He had no idea what was going on, and as I choked out an explanation for my tears I felt so ridiculous for crying that I began to cry-laugh. The kids were dancing around us, chattering a mile a minute until they noticed my tears mixed with laughter. “Those aren’t even real tears. She’s faking,” 4-year-old Emma announced.

“No, they’re real,” I said and grabbed my 2nd grader in a hug where I told her how much I was going to miss her. She grinned at the attention.

When her first day of school came two days later, my husband was out of town, and so I was all business as I prepared everyone to head out the door on time by myself. No tears from me. I was proud.

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As we neared her line, I grabbed Lydia’s hand and was glad she didn’t resist. But soon, we were walking past bigger kids, and I was worried she might be embarrassed to be seen holding her mom’s hand. So I pretended I had an itch on my forehead, and then casually let my hand dangle back near hers. In less than a second, her hand found mine again — and that’s when I knew I wasn’t getting through the morning without tears.

The principal had all the parents line up so the kids could parade around the school before entering on a red carpet. It was adorable, and I was happy for the chance to wave goodbye in a festive environment.

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As she filed past me with the cutest grin on her face, a mom next to me wiped tears from her eyes. “Oh!” she exclaimed. “I can’t believe I’m crying again. 2nd and 5th grade. You’d think I’d be over this by now!”

I wiped my own tears and nodded.

It’s always comforting to see a more seasoned parent struggling with the same things I am. I don’t know if I’ll always be so devastatingly sad each school year, but for now, no matter how many times I’ve been around the block, I still mourn these milestones. Next up next year? 3rd grade for my oldest, and kindergarten for my middle child. I’ll stock up on tissues now, thanks.

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Emma’s 4th birthday

by Rebecca on August 10, 2015

Emma turned 4 with much anticipation. This has been the year of recognizing limits of 3-year-old bodies. She was certain all would change at 4. “Mom, I can’t reach the sink because I’m 3, but when I’m 4 I’ll be bigger!”

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As the day of her birthday drew nearer, she began to see growth everywhere. “Mom, my legs go down to HERE in my bed now,” she said with an emphatic pat at a particular spot on her bed. “Look at my arms; they’re bigger!”

She couldn’t wait for the changes that were going to come, and she spent a lot of time musing at the possibilities. “I wonder if my boice will be different,” she said. “Maybe my boice will sound like Lydia’s boice.”

She compared arms with Lydia. “Lydia, what color is your skin?” she asked. “I fink my skin will be the same skin as yours when I turn 4.”

And then she began to get worried. “I won’t be able to use my favorite blanket anymore,” she said with a pout. “When I’m 4, I’ll be too big.”

On the eve of her birthday, Ryan and I crowded around her little toddler bed and made a big deal out of the fact that we were kissing our 3-year-old goodnight for the last time ever. She smiled with pride as we cooed over her growth. I then begged her not to grow older, and she patiently told me with a small eye-roll and a hint of condescension, “Mom, I CAN’T stop growing.”

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The next morning, she hopped into our big bed, where we snuggled and sang to her. We covered her in too many kisses, and hugged her too tight. She worked to free herself from our affections, and then went down her checklist.

“My special blankey still fits,” she said with relief. Then, with disappointment, she told us, “My boice isn’t any different.”

Always a girl who chooses to find happiness, however, she finished up with, “But I have all new skin!”

“All new skin?” we asked.

“Yep!” and she proudly showed us her arm while we told her that maybe she was right.

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Later, as she and I stood next to each other, she said excitedly, “MOM! Look! I’m up to here!” And she put her hand on top of her head to draw an invisible line to my waist. I didn’t tell her she had been “up to there” the day before as well.

We spent all day “marveling” over her new growth and changes that had apparently happened overnight. By the time we went to church, she was telling her primary teacher that her boice had, indeed, changed.

When we walked through the parking lot, she bemoaned the fact that she still had to hold my hand. “But I’m a big kid now!” she said, as I held her hand tight.

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I grabbed her big sister’s 7-year-old hand, and said, “You’ll be holding my hand even when you’re 7.” She moaned with distaste while I smiled. It’s ok for her to grow all new skin, and to be up to my waist, but I draw the line at discontinuing affections. Nice try.

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Three-year-old Emma

Emma's 2nd birthday -- Dino 9

Two-year-old Emma

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One-year-old Emma

 

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Happy Birthday, Fat Boy

July 28, 2015

Rex turned 1, and we celebrated the milestone of our little fat boy with… what else? Fat Boy ice cream sandwiches.* In truth, Homeboy is not fat, but with a year of weight struggles behind us, he looks pretty dang delicious and meaty to us. Look how pleased he is (and a double chin, to […]

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Happy birthday, Rex

July 6, 2015

  I always think a baby’s first birthday should be about the mother. Yeah, I said it. To me, that milestone represents all the blood, sweat, tears, exhaustion, joy, and love the mother poured into that baby. What did the baby do during that year? Other than be totally adorable, of course. The mother spent the […]

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The bottom of the well

June 23, 2015

Every now and then I panic about the drought over here in the West. What will happen if the Earth runs dry? Sometimes I place a bowl to catch the water that runs from the faucet while I wait for the water to reach the right temperature. And then I take that bowl outside and dump it […]

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The Middle Years

May 11, 2015

When we can’t find my 3-year-old’s favorite stuffed animal at bedtime, suddenly our house is under Code RED emergency lockdown. Nobody in, and nobody out until the precious bunny has been located, retrieved, and safely snuggled in the little dictator’s chubby arms. Sometimes it’s exasperating. Most of the time, though, I really don’t mind. I love the […]

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The first 10 years of marriage: What I’ve learned

March 18, 2015

Today is my 10th wedding anniversary. It’s a big one, and as a writer, I feel this funny need to look within and say something noteworthy about this milestone. So I started this post three times, but each time it was wrong. In my other posts, I focused on the hard times. I wanted to […]

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Motherhood? No thanks

March 12, 2015

I was sitting at a church activity the other night, listening to some teenage girls tell each other they would never, ever get married and have children. Once you do that, you see, your life is over. “Oh yes,” I said. “I don’t do anything. I have no life anymore.” It was a lame joke, […]

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The moments

March 4, 2015

I walked into our bedroom to see Emma (3) doing a little dance. She was wrapped head-to-toe in her towel after a bath, and everybody knows there’s nothing cuter than a kid wrapped in a towel after a bath. Ryan was kneeling down in front of her, still taller than her even on his knees, copying […]

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7-year-old Lydia

February 20, 2015

Ever since Lydia turned 1, we’ve been taking her picture with her favorite stuffed animal at every birthday. I knew I was going to love the tradition when I started it seven years ago, and I always have. This year, it’s making me all sorts of weepy. SEVEN? SEVEN! I feel like this is the year when we’re […]

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