Boys II Men said it best when they crooned, “it’s so haaard to say goodbyyye to yesterdaaay”. My daughter is on the brink of “graduating” from lower school and it is ripping me up. She’s going from 4th grade to 5th, which means that she and her friends are moving on from being the “seniors” of the lower school to the “freshmen” of the middle school. Next year she’ll rotate from classroom to classroom, take on greater academic challenges, receive grades for the first time and interact with 6th, 7th and 8th graders regularly. She’s 10-years old but, lately, when I look at her my mind flashes back to the day she was born in 2000 in Germantown, Tennessee. She was an adorable, hearty baby, with lots of leg rolls, weighing in at 9 pounds even. She smiled easily and was just a very free flowing little soul. She would go to anyone and was relatively low maintenance. Luckily for me, she has maintained that same sweet disposition and continues to be a curious, happy, loving child. I know it sounds dramatic, but the other day I actually woke up in a cold sweat thinking about her getting older and moving on.
Change is a curious thing. I sometimes find myself wanting something new, for things to be shaken up a bit, but when it involves my children I often go into my cry-at-the-drop-of-a-hat, back to the future mode, and start wishing for the days long ago when they were babies. Back then things were hectic and crazy, but the kids were solely under my control and life was much simpler. Yes, I didn’t get enough sleep and barely had time to go to the bathroom, but the bubble we built around the kids was impenetrable, and they were safe under our watch. Fast forward ten years and I find myself contemplating a lot of deep questions, such as are we parenting effectively? Have we made the right choices? Is she equipped to face the world without us?
As if the heavens were listening, just this morning I received an e-mail from a friend who had recently spent some time with her daughter and mine, just chatting and having lunch. My friend said wonderful things about my daughter, and as I was reading the e-mail I just burst into tears. I am so proud of the person she is becoming, but ironically, I’m so emotional because she is maturing and becoming her own person. It’s funny that as we near a major transition in my daughter’s life that it just dawned on me that she doesn’t depend on me for every need like she used to do. She’s finding her own voice, shaping her own opinions and developing her own style. Times are surely changing. She is entering the stage where her friends’ influence is becoming stronger and I’m just becoming slightly embarrassing. While she used to laugh and join me as I sang and danced around the house, now she just says, “moooom!” as if I’m the biggest nerd walking the planet. She obviously didn’t get the memo that I’m still cool.
While I take note of the fact that she will sometimes go into baby-mode, wanting to sit on my lap or just be hugged and kissed unexpectedly, the writing is definitely on the wall that she’s moving on. She’s ready to begin taking on life’s challenges on her own terms. I often jokingly tell my friends that she’s the nosiest child I know, but I recognize that she’s just trying to get a jump start on figuring out what adults talk about in private so she can prepare herself for what’s to come.
I’m finding that on most days I have mixed emotions about the passing of time. Although I’m partly happy and partly sad about my daughter’s inevitable transformation from baby to child to young lady, I realize that I seriously need to get a grip or I’m going to completely burn myself out before she even gets to high school. I plan to suck it up, put my game face on and get ready to embrace the unmistakable change that’s coming my way. The 4th grade dinner and “graduation” is tonight and I need to make it through without crying uncontrollably and completely embarrassing my daughter. While I’m learning that it’s definitely hard to say goodbye to the past, at the same time it’s exciting to say hello to tomorrow.