I had carefully scheduled my meetings around this morning’s fifth grade promotion ceremony. Our youngest daughter’s second to last day in our neighborhood school. As planned, I logged off my morning meetings promptly at 10 a.m. to dash over to the school and set up chairs for the outdoor assembly.
It was an overcast morning. There was a light breeze. The ceremony was plain and simple. The principal offered remarks. We all clapped politely. Time moved slowly for those moments.
And then all at once the children were smiling and running around the parking lot. Families were taking pictures together and arranging the children for photos as well. And my daughter grabbed a friend of hers for a photo–a friend she has known since she was two. Except they weren’t two. They are ten. And seeing them stand together made me feel the entire arc of her life so far in a nanosecond.
Like a ton of bricks, like a tsunami, all of a sudden I was drowning in the idea that we were moving on. I have been brimming with happiness thinking about my two daughters in middle school together. I’ve been joking for years that when they both hit puberty I would get a dog so someone would love me unconditionally (and our pandemic pup is two now so that’s working out great for me). As walkers to the neighborhood school, I have been dreaming of the day that they would ride the bus together and that day is finally here.
We made it.
And in making it, our time here is over. It feels like we just got started. Like I was just writing an open letter to my oldest daughter and then my youngest at the start of kindergarten. It’s like we’ve been on a tilt-a-whirl with loose safety straps and they’ve cut us free from the ride. The time space continuum has bent sideways and suddenly we don’t have little humans anymore.
We’re here. Here on the other side of some of the toughest years parenting through intense world circumstances and the girls just continued to grow. Because that’s how life works.
Except I hadn’t given it one thought until this morning.
I usually plan. I count down. I revisit and reflect and wax nostalgic about what was and where we’re headed. And it seems I have done none of that. I was stuck thinking that two years ago, we never had a fifth grade promotion ceremony for our oldest because we were in the start of the pandemic. There was a drive through celebration which means my brain never stopped for that moment either.
They are moving ahead and I’m hanging on to their coattails, praying time will stop and we can go back to the beginning or at least to a time when my girls were small and their voices were squeaky and the toughest problem we had was what show to watch or what book to read.
Life is moving at light speed. I could cry, honestly.
The girls have taken to mocking my penchant for crying. Everything makes me cry–happy things, sad things, and they’re amused to no end at my crying even during joyful life moments. Tonight they pronounced that this was “the last night ever of elementary school” or “my last night as a seventh grader” and instead of crying, I showed them this blog. This space that I have worked so hard to cultivate. It has been difficult for the last few years to crystallize thoughts or find time to clear my head. I still write, but maybe not always in public. But this place has always been a place I can return to check for breadcrumbs, to remind myself that we grow and change and life marches on with us. This is where I have quite literally written my way out of questions and grief and change.
I showed them each the letter I wrote on the first day of kindergarten. I left them alone to read them. My older daughter thought the post was sweet but my youngest had tears in eyes.
It’s hard to be a mom, I told her. She nodded without words and hugged me tight.
Hard, yes. An honor, truly.
And just like that, we bid goodbye and push onward.
It’s better that it just hit me because I don’t have time to wallow or worry. I have to keep up because time will fly exponentially faster now.
I don’t want to miss a moment.