I was you. Just yesterday.
It’s that time of year. End of Summer. Back to school. In the last couple of weeks, I have seen countless pictures of your kids going off to their first day of kindergarten. Or preschool. Holding up their signs, sporting their first tiny backpacks and full of sweet, adorable anticipation. I’ve read all of your sentiments about how tough it is. #i’mnotcrying.you’re crying. How can my baby be growing up so fast? I can’t believe it. Where did the time go?
And I was you. Just yesterday. I was you. I remember it so vividly. I watched the clock all day, full of nervous excitement for my little boy and so very anxious to get him home and wrap him in my arms. The beginning of our separation. As a stay-at-home mom, this was the first time he would start a life apart from me. I wasn’t sure either of us were ready. But the day came and went and he shined. As for me, I adjusted quickly to our new normal and began the journey of a mom to a school-aged kiddo.
And now this week, that same little guy started middle school. So different and yet so many of the same emotions. On the eve of the first day, he said 3 uncharacteristic and vulnerable words. “Mom, I’m scared.” And gave me a tight hug which is rare these days and mostly only when he initiates it. And I was scared too. I had trouble sleeping, watched the clock all day and felt that same anxious feeling until he was back home again. I watched him walk out the door and down the street to his bus stop. So Tall. So Independent. But I still see that same little boy in there. Just a bigger version of him. Nowhere near grown up. So much yet to experience.
Unlike starting kindergarten, I actually remember when I made this transition myself. When I took him to orientation, it all came flooding back. A small fish in a big pond. Locker combinations to learn. A map of a new, much bigger school and a scary feeling of independence. One of many transitions on the path to adulthood.
At the same time, I see all of you sending your kids off to college – some for the first time. Some empty nesters. And I know you are probably thinking "middle school? No big deal. You just wait". Your little boys and girls have been replaced with men and women. Living separate lives apart from you. They’re not walking out the door to the bus stop. And they’re not coming home at the end of the day. And the thing is, I see it. I am you. Tomorrow. It’s that inevitable passing of time that seems to quicken every day. We are smack dab in the middle. The time that has passed from kindergarten is the time we have left until college. It takes my breath away.
As a mom to another, special needs child who is on a very different, unfamiliar and unchartered path, I am grateful for this roadmap. I have a rough idea of how things go. I’ve done it myself. It’s natural. It’s growing up. It’s what we dream of for our kids. The days are long and the years are short.
I just wish it would slow down. When you have kids, it seems like you are beginning such a long journey. Even when I think about my own childhood, it seems like it spans a long time. So many experiences. So much growth and learning. And yet, I have been away from my own parents now for longer than I was with them. Hard to believe. The child rearing years are actually quite short in the grand scheme of things. And I bet if I were to ask my own mom and dad, they’d tell me “I was you. Just yesterday.”