Time is a thief.
Each year, many of us take the obligatory first and last day of school pictures, shocked at how much our children have grown right before our very eyes. The changes happen gradually and you don’t necessarily notice the vast difference until you create that side-by-side collage. This year, however, I’m dreading taking the first day picture. I can’t bear to look at photos from the last day of school to the first day of this new school year because my kids have grown astronomically this summer.
In just 10 weeks, my oldest son grew three shoe sizes and is less than an inch from growing taller than me. My daughter seemingly went from a shy little girl to a confident young woman overnight, winning Rookie of the Year at swim team and getting cast in the lead role in a play. My youngest, my baby, went from reading picture books to devouring chapter books without batting an eye as she heads into first grade. Faces have chiseled, muscles are popping out, deodorant has been bought, and only mere flashes of those precious early childhood days remain.
The torturous concept of 18 summers sits heavy this year. The summers and years seem to go infinitely faster as the kids get older, and for the first time, I truly feel like their childhood is flashing before my eyes.
I’m not ready to let go of these special summer days just yet. I don’t want to say goodbye to the carefree late nights, the less-intense summer sports, leisurely pool days, and casual get-togethers. My soul isn’t prepared to move away from the smell of burgers cooking on the grill, the sweetness of root beer floats on the patio, the ice-cream smeared faces, the festivals punctuated with illuminating firework displays, the grounding feel of sand under our toes. My heart can’t relinquish these precious summers with my littles that have brought such joy, so many cherished memories, and an abundance of sweetness.
Yet, time marches on — whether we like it or not. School is starting, fall sports and enrichment activities are kicking into high gear, things are progressing with or without us. All we can do is go into it with armor we’ve garnered from years past, taking time to embrace what’s most important and utilizing our toolboxes to help us stay afloat. It’s time to get those supplies, welcome those routines, see those familiar faces and forge into whatever new adventures await us. It’s time to embrace change and explore opportunities.
I’m not ready, but they are.
In coping with my refusal to accept this seemingly abrupt ending to summer, I spent the past few nights binge watching Sweet Magnolias. I had already drafted this post when the words I’ve so desperately needed to hear shouted out to me:
“Your worries will evolve as your children evolve, and you’ll stop thinking the worst and start hoping for the best. And find pride and wonder in your child becoming who they are meant to be, no matter what age.”
Our children are embracing the newness and adventure of it all. They love growing up and becoming more independent. They beam with pride when they accomplish something that they didn’t think they could do or have struggled with in the past. They are excited for their new classes, to see old friends and make new ones. They can’t wait for their next sport seasons and academic challenges that are growing in intensity alongside them. They are seeing life through a more mature lens all of a sudden, eyes gleaming with such excitement and hunger to experience it all.
Although I’m not ready, and a piece of me probably never will be, deep down I truly am proud, excited, and delighted that I get to watch them grow into the amazing people that they are meant to be.