We had something in common.
All three of us, standing there, talking about what will inevitably happen next week.
She called it the first ‘empty-nest experience.’ We all nodded agreement. That’s what it feels like.
All three of us will watch our youngest – our babies - sling those heavy backpacks over their shoulders and march down the sidewalk through those double doors straight into a world far from Mommy’s watchful eye.
An exciting world full of learning and bright colours and playful music. A scary world full of new experiences and different influences and greater expectations.
Mommy won’t be there to open containers and tie shoelaces and give reminders for using manners. Mommy won’t be there to celebrate small successes or wrap arms around teary little ones.
“Do you think she’s ready?” the question comes from the mother of the adorable blonde boy.
I nod yes. She’s ready. She talks about riding the bus like her brother, learning her letters, and writing her name. We’ve purchased her markers and indoor shoes and stuffed them into her new pink backpack and she has hung it proudly beside her brother’s. She’s practiced her teacher’s name and peeked into the window of her classroom. And every morning she asks how many more days until school.
Yes – she’s ready. But the unspoken question remains: Am I?
How did it happen so quickly? Almost unnoticed? Somewhere between the midnight feedings and diaper changes I missed the calendar turning and the years passing and this day has come somewhat of a surprise. When you are in the fog of babies and toddlers, you think this day will never come.
Yet it does.
And when it does you wish you could turn back the clock and breath in the sweet smell of newborn skin at 2 a.m. just one more time. You wish you could go back to all the firsts and etch those moments deep in your memory so you can retrieve them at any time.
But some memories are lost by the cruel march of time.
This is an end – yes – but it’s also a new beginning.
I think about all the firsts yet to come. The first time she shares something during show-and-tell. Her first report card. The first book she reads on her own. Her first diploma as she graduates kindergarten. There are lots of exciting firsts ahead.
It is a new beginning – for her and for us as a family.
This Mama will watch her climb the over-sized steps of that bus and pray like crazy that God, in His grace and mercy, will watch over a little girl who marches into a big world without her Mama.