I’m having trouble saying goodbye and I’m nowhere near having to do so. The past few weeks, I’ve watched friends drop off kids at college (and because most of those friends are social media people, each moment has been carefully documented). This peek into my future has only exacerbated this feeling I’ve had the last few months, which is this: the end will be here in a blink.
It’s a lot like when my kids were toddlers and older parents would remind me to enjoy this stage because it goes by fast. While so very true, it was also frustrating because I was trying to enjoy every second at the park, while also trying to stave off a tantrum by making sure naptime wasn’t forgotten, doling out snacks like it was feeding time at the zoo, and lugging around a change of clothes for the inevitable romp in the water feature that was on despite being a cold winter day or the diaper explosion that always happened when least needed.
Life was happening pretty fast and that has only sped up as the kids grew older. The last 12+ years have gone by in a blink and now that Chloe is going into eighth grade, I know the next five years will knock me over as they race right by, straight out the front door.
I’ve resorted to my favorite calming mechanism, which is aggressive list-making. Aggressive and calming don’t always go hand-in-hand, but getting the thoughts out of my head and on paper in an organized way always makes me feel better. I started drafting up lists of places that I wanted to (realistically) travel with Chloe before college, and skills I wanted to her have before leaving our house. The thing I didn’t have to write down was that I didn’t want to miss any opportunity to do something with her.
My kids have another week of summer vacation left and I’m dreading the end. I’m not one of those commercial parents calling this the most wonderful time of year as shopping for school supplies or speeding into the school parking lot to push my kids out of the car. When I drop off Chloe for her first day of eighth grade, I expect to feel as conflicted as I did on her first day of kindergarten. This is a big year, and while I’m excited for all it will bring, it means we edge closer to that big goodbye that I watched play out with friends on Facebook recently.
I love our foursome. I want to keep it in a little protective bubble and preserve it forever. But I know I can’t, and in the meantime, I’m trying to be present and enjoy this stage because I know it goes by fast.