I held a couple of babies, listened to a retired school teacher talk about getting your preschoolers ready for kindergarten, talked about breastfeeding with some nursing moms, and headed to the post office...to mail my daughter's high school graduation announcements. I'd call that a morning of contrasts.
I love hanging with our Mothers of Preschoolers on the first day of every other week. Being a mentor mom for our MOPS group gives me the opportunity to give back to the younger set, something that is very important to me because I owe such a debt to a few older women who poured into me during those busy, uncertain, and wearing years. And, even though I'm far removed from preparing a preschooler for kindergarten or nursing a baby, I still love talking about such mommy interests. I think I always will, because while those were exhausting years, they were also precious years and I remember them with nothing but gladness of heart.
Still, as I fast approach the completely empty nest, the smell of freshly changed babies, the sweet talk of chattering two-year-olds, the toting of diaper bags and strollers, the talk of naps and Dr. Seuss, and the swapping of birth stories...gets to me a little.
This past Saturday evening my husband and I sat about ten rows back on the right center aisle of the Buena Performing Arts Center. After years of viewing performances in this auditorium, we know the good seats. We watched for our daughter's entrances like hawks on the lookout for a scampering mouse. She dazzled us and everyone else, even though she wasn't technically the star of the show. We watched her slightest moves, her facial expressions. We only took our eyes off her occasionally to check out what the main characters were saying, what they were doing. Then, satisfied that we had caught up with the action, we diverted our gazes back to our star, the one we had come to see. We clapped at the end of each scene and then we clapped a little louder, a little longer at the end of the performance. And then we sat there...staring at the closed curtain...for the final time.
I've been telling my daughter for months now that I'm going to be just fine we she leaves us in the fall to go to college. And, with a little patience and a little talking myself through the transition, I will. But right now, as time is slipping by and all those "last" this and thats are coming and going faster than I can get my camera out of its case, I'm starting to find it hard to breathe.
I'm not going to write much more about this. I never intended to write this much. I don't want to be one of those moms that tells the younger moms, "Enjoy them now; they'll grow up before you know it." Actually, every day was accounted for with the growing of my kids. It did happen fast, but not before I knew it. I savored. I took it in. I enjoyed each age, each phase, each stage, each day. I honestly did. And, minus a few tearful and heated exchanges, a few worrisome nights at the hospital, a few frustrations over truly minor concerns, and a few disappointments and losses, it was...glorious. Simply glorious.
But still, it's all about to change...
And upon the backdrop of young mommies nursing babies all around me this morning, my day of mailing graduation announcements, planning a graduation party, and looking for scholarship notices in the mail seems a little like the final pages of a treasured and well-worn novel. I always feel a mixture of relief, resolution, and regret when the pages in my right hand decrease to just a few while the majority of the book rests in my left. Relief because all is turning out well -- and it is. Resolution because I know where the sequel will pick up -- in all likelihood, anyhow. But regret because I'll have to read the final words soon and place the beloved book down.
I'll pick up another one, hopefully the sequel, but this one is finished.
My mommy years are almost finished.
I don't normally like to open myself up to a lot of consolation or pity. I don't even feel very comfortable receiving a whole lot of encouragement or empathy. I'm a little more private and self-sufficient than all that, usually.
But feel free. Please, feel free.