As my daughter leans into the last week of third grade, I am again experiencing the smothering emotion of the passing of another milestone.
It’s that all too familiar negative feeling. “What?” you may ask, shouldn’t I be thrilled that I am the mother to a healthy, developing, almost 10-year-old girl?
Well, of course I am! Don’t get me wrong, I am beyond grateful for the gift of my sweet girl.
I think almost daily about the families of Newtown or those with children with terminal illnesses, or the countless others who would do anything to experience their child making a transition from one grade to another.
I get it. And yet, at this time of year when school is winding to a close, there is this sense of a ghostly presence in my life.
I first notice it subtly around Valentine’s Day or Spring Break.
I’m able to ignore it then and remind myself of all the things left in the school year—this field trip or that project. And then, like today, during our last field trip, I can ignore the specter no longer.
It is grief. Front and center. Causing me to tear up when hearing a certain song, or when I remind myself that today was the last something. This grief that sits on my chest and reminds me of how quickly time passes and how my little girl is not really little anymore. That she, and I for that matter, are caught in this in-between place of baby and adolescence…of needing and wanting and growing and independence.
That place that prevents her from holding my hand as much. From needing the step stool in the bathroom. And realizing suddenly that she hasn’t needed that Elmo stool in a long time.
The place where I marvel at her ability to do things like cut fruit and operate the television remote and take her first trail ride on a horse. Or that she spends an afternoon reading alone, instead of prodding me with “Mommy!” a million times in an hour.
A place where bathing alone or showering without my help happens more than it doesn’t. A place of less. Less little girl and more big girl. Also a place of more. More jokes and stories and bike rides.
The ability to ride a really scary roller coaster 5 times in a day.
Yes, there are lots of “pluses” to the growing… and yet, I can’t help but wish I could take back a couple trips around the sun and do it all again. Actually, maybe I’d take back all 10 years…and just live every day one more time.
Have the two lines on the pregnancy test appear ever so slowly again. Maybe somehow it wouldn’t feel like such a blur or somehow I’d be able to hold onto each moment a little tighter and feel the weight and the wonder of it.
To look in her face a little more often…to hear her laugh as a 3-year-old again.
Ah, but all these musings steal the time I do have. And that is the fight for me…being here now and wanting it to stop, all while looking back.
I guess, like her, I’m trying to ride the faster coaster. Holding on tight though I’m terrified, and yet, simultaneously screaming at the top of my lungs because it’s such a blast.
Author: Traci Lowenthal
Editor: Renee Jahnke