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Archive for August, 2009

Right this minute, as I type this, all three of my children are in grammar school. My girls, my baby girls, are in kindergarten. My beloved first born, in fourth grade.

I’m once again overwhelmed by a parenting milestone. Emotional, and even, yes, a little teary-eyed.

This time around, I did not sob publicly at the bus stop, as I had done when my son boarded the bus on that first full day of kindergarten. He was completely perplexed that a day that gave him such a thrill caused me such obvious sorrow.

As he boarded that yellow bus, I cried. Yes I cried. I cried, not because my son was leaving me, or that I worried about his ability to do well in kindergarten. I cried because my son was going off onto the bus that would take him to the world where I could no longer protect him. I put him on that bus and with him went all the impossible dreams shared by all parents. We want our children to sail easily through life. No tragedies. No missteps. We want our sons and daughters to be beloved by all, to succeed beyond our wildest dreams.

And so they go to school, and that’s why I cried. When I think of school, I remember being inspired by the rare great teacher but I also remember unending boredom at the hands of people who no longer cared for teaching. I remember the cruelty of children towards other children. I’ve sent my children off into that world and I hope I’ve given them the skills they need to thrive, but I worry. One cannot help but worry.

This year, I held it together on Monday, the open-house day, when the parents got to go to school with their kindergartners.

I held it together when the teacher read a poem about the fears parents had the night before the first day.

I held it together yesterday, when my baby girls got off the big yellow bus by themselves, after their first full day in the classroom.

I held it together – and even enjoyed the family back-to-school barbecue last night.

Today, I’m a mess. I’m a mess because I’ve launched my babies into the world and yes, it’s all good – they’re ready.

But I’m a mess because maybe, just maybe, I’m not ready for my obsolescence.

Nearly ten years ago I became a parent, and was immediately overwhelmed by the constancy of my baby’s need. He ate all the time; he slept hardly ever. Between the two, I was literally blown away by how tethered I felt as the mother of a newborn.

Then the twins came, and I was tethered, yes, but used to it by then. I had learned to fit pieces of me into little slices of naptime and other bits of time like that.

And then my son went to kindergarten and my girls went to preschool.

And today, they’re all in grammar school. All three of them are “big kids” now. And my life as the mother of babies has come to an end forever.

Today, I am sad.

Tomorrow I will celebrate this milestone. But I never realized how much of parenthood was learning to let go….

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It is astonishing that school will start in two days. My baby girls will become big girls, kindergardeners. My first-born will start 4th grade – and we’ll see his tenth birthday before 2009 ends.

As a child, summer was once a lazy season, drifting over me like the white puffy clouds drifted through the blue sky of summer.

Today, summer flashes by faster than Usain Bolt’s world record sprint. Faster than a hummingbird’s wings. Faster than a flash of lightening in a summer storm.

Our summer was fun – filled with activities – summer school, swim team, swimming lessons.

We went to Navy Pier and witnessed the magic of theater and the thrill of the Navy Pier rides.

My son and I went to Great America, where we enjoyed the thrill of the American Eagle.

We went camping on Rock Island in Door County and experienced swimming, a beautiful beach, fishing, the worst storm in two summers and even a snake bite.

Summer flashed by – never boring, filled with events. But when did summer become the swiftest season to pass?

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Seems yesterday we were celebrating the end of the school year.

Now it’s just a couple of weeks before school starts up again.

And my baby girls are now big girls – starting kindergarten in the fall.

How did that happen?

(Nostalgia has me humming some Al Stewart…)

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I posted pix on FB recently – and a friend from HS, who I’ve reconnected with thanks to FB, made a comment that my son looks like my dad.

It was an innocuous comment that caught me off guard.

Yes, my son looks very much like my dad. But my father died more than a quarter century ago – and there are very few people I see in my day-to-day life who have any memory at all of my father. He simply does not exist for anyone I’ve met since 1984.

So to have someone note the resemblance my son has to my father is highly unusual. And it made me sad. My son is so very much like my father – but he’ll never really know that because he never got to know my father.

Memory matters. Our memories of people are very powerful. When you lose someone you love, you lose the ability to introduce that person to all the new people who enter into your life as time passes on. My friend’s comment on FB made me realize that my parents, so important to me, are completely absent in the lives and memories of most people I see everyday.

And I realized yet again that the tentacles of loss are very long.

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My friend related this to me the other day – the conversation of three boys in the back of her van as they were driving hither and yon the other day:

“I’ve got ADHD,” said Boy with ADHD.

“Hmm. We’ve got AT&T,” said Friend #1.

“We don’t have cable in our house,” said Friend #2… “but we’ve got the WII.”

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Just have to share this.

What do you think the rehearsal was like for this wedding?

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