Busy in Bristow: My Baby,Your Baby; From PreK to Cap and Gown

Graduation milestones make parents wonder where the time goes.

The baby you sent off to Kindergarten ‘yesterday’ turns her tassel amidst a graduating class of hundreds while your middle schooler moves on to navigate the crowds in high school, and your fourth grader smiles at you with a full set of adult teeth. Congratulations, Mom – your family has finished up yet another school year.

What’s the next step of your baby’s journey?

Did she just sing you a high pitched song about being a PreK star, then rush off to dig her fingers into the creamy icing of a sheet cake decorated with the shocking words, future class of 2025?

Did he just finish fifth grade, forever leaving elementary cares behind, moving into the prepubescent world of body odor, crushes (they call them that for a reason), and frog dissection?

Is she shuffling off to become a freshman next fall, happy because her braces are finally off and that boy, what’s-his-name, signed her yearbook with, “Hope to see you this summer at the pool!”

Or, last weekend did you – like the hundreds of mothers I know – just watch your 18 year old stride across the stage in a cap and gown and grasp that unlikely of all things, a high school diploma – unlikely because it was just yesterday morning he boarded that yellow bus for the first time, stumbled up the grooved rubber stairs, a little unsure of himself, and looked back over his shoulder at you? Do you remember how you held back your tears until after the bus pulled away and then you called your best friend who’d gone through this already?

Last night, my neighbor and I discussed her daughter’s plans for college, and I told her I distinctly remember her little girl in diapers. She pointed to my “almost second grader” maneuvering his RC truck up and down the road and told me she feels old seeing how quickly my young children are growing up.

Why is it we don’t believe this “time flies phenomenon” until we are the ones experiencing it?

I feel – for the first time since I became a mother – a sense of leaving the stage of “survival” and settling squarely into that of “savoring.”

It’s not that things are EASIER now. Those of you who follow my column know I’ve actually found the opposite to be true … the older my child, the more complex his problems and the greater the possibility I’m going to muck it up somehow.

But something is stretching inside of me, quite possibly because as my children grow up, I continue to grow up myself.

I feel it when I’m in the middle of something I think is important and one of them interrupts me with one of a hundred endless requests – be it for a glass of juice or an answer to a question (“Who would win? A black widow or a scorpion?”).

The impulse to resist is still there. I will, after all, get nothing done if I am at the constant beck and call of four children.

But in my moments of impatience, there is also something else … a sense of wonder, a feeling of time being suspended – a gift from the big universe to little me called “the present.”

And something tells me that the more I stop and revel in it, the more I look straight into the eyes of my child and give her all the attention she wants, that time will in fact, start ticking a little more slowly for me and my family. That instead of it being minutes before I’m watching her graduate high school, it will feel something more like, oh, I don’t know … hours.

Like many moms, Kathy drives a mini-van full of booster seats and Disney/Pixar DVD’s. When she’s not chauffeuring her kids, ages 10 and under, to school and activities, she teaches for Prince William County Public Schools, writes fiction, poetry and this column about the challenges and rewards of being a mom to young children.

© 2012, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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