Last night, I laid out a shirt with a funky citrus fruit print and a pair of bright orange shorts on my son’s dresser. It’s not the outfit I would have chosen, but my oldest son saw it on the rack and insisted that it was the coolest shirt ever. How could I argue with that?
I took his brand-new shoes out of their box and located a clean pair of socks. I put clean undies and a folded towel on his bathroom counter, intending to remind him that, since puberty is knocking on the door, a daily shower is now a must.
I went to the kitchen, packed his lunchbox, double-checked that all his school supplies were in his backpack, propranolol general anxiety disorder and turned off the lights.
Then I went to my room and quietly shed just a few tears. You see, this morning I sent my oldest child to his last first day of elementary school, and I was just not ready.
It feels like I literally just took a photo of his toothless grin and captioned it, “First day of kindergarten!” Somehow, in the blink of an eye, that smiling baby has grown into a barely smirking, full-sized fifth grader with a head full of knowledge and feet bigger than mine.
How did that happen?
When we got in the car this morning, I asked him if he wanted me to walk him into school. I desperately wanted him to say yes, but he gently reminded me, “Mom, I’m big now. I don’t need you to help me find my classroom. I can do it by myself. And I can walk my brother in, too. I know where second graders go.”
And just like that, he hopped out of the car, gave me a grin and a wave, grabbed his brother’s hand, and headed into his elementary school for the last first day in this building we have come to know and love.
As I sat in the car line waiting for my turn to leave, I couldn’t help but feel very proud … and a tiny bit sad. Something about watching the littleness melt away brings about a sense of longing for the days when I could cradle his entire body in one of my arms instead of standing almost eye-to-eye for a hug.
He’s already been so many boys.
A tiny newborn whose very existence renewed my faith in whatever is out there and convinced me that there must be something bigger than us because there is no way I could create something so perfect without divine help.
A wobbly toddler with a handful of teeth and not one ounce of fear, running through the world with reckless abandon, giggling as he took it all in.
A little boy with missing teeth, a smattering of freckles, and the entirety of human knowledge regarding dinosaurs stored between his adorable little ears.
And now, he’s this. He is mostly little, but with a few glimpses of the teenager he will very soon become. His body is growing tall and strong, but I know when he offers to let his siblings sleep in his room during a big storm, it’s just as much for his sake as theirs.
The transformation makes me proud and melancholy all at once.
I only blinked.
This year is going to be so much fun for him. He’s the top banana in his current school. The fifth graders get to do things the “little kids” don’t, like read morning announcements over the intercom, raise the flag, and help younger kids find their way to new places. I can’t wait to hear about all of his experiences and adventures as a fifth grader. I know he has so much goodness ahead.
The next time I drop him off for the first day of school, he will be walking into a building as the littlest guy on campus. Sayonara, top banana. I sure hope he doesn’t get too attached to being the big man on campus.
I was prepared when I became a mom to celebrate all the firsts. I dreamed about the milestones. First birthday. First steps. First day of school. First time at Disney World. First school dance. First kiss. First, first, first.
Somehow, I forgot to prepare myself for the lasts. Last time nursing. Last diaper change. Last Christmas believing in Santa. Last first day as an elementary student.
Time just moves so quickly when you’re watching your child grow from a nervous kindergarten baby to a confident, strong kid preparing to move into middle school.
I realize these feelings might be seen as a touch dramatic. All the parents of high school seniors are rolling their eyes so hard at me right now, and I get it. I know I still have seven first days of school left before he graduates high school. In so many ways he is still just little, and I am grateful to have so much more time before he is grown.
But for some reason today the number seven feels so small. Seven. Only seven. And we’ve done 6 already.
This mix of excited anticipation for his bright future and wistful longing for the sweet days gone by is hard. When you love someone so much that you don’t want to miss a single moment, the passage of time can feel like an immense privilege … but also, a bit of a thief.
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