When Did This Happen?
(I apologize for the lack of paragraphs. It keeps taking them out when I publish the post.)
I'm a little confused about who the people in this picture actually are. It looks like me (with some crazy hair) and Maddie, but it just can't be. I found myself having a very surreal moment last Thursday as I took Maddie (my firstborn) to her first eye doctor visit. You see, I took her to my eye doctor...the very one I have been seeing since I was ten years old and got my first pair of (very cool, pink) glasses. Whenever I go for a check-up, I really kinda feel like that little girl in goofy plastic frames, being taken by my mom for an eye check. But, suddenly, I find myself sitting in the "mom" chair looking at this beautiful little girl with blonde hair and no front teeth.
That's when it hits me. I am the mom. The one driving kids to doctor's appointments, paying taxes, and cooking meals. (I use the term cooking loosely here. It mainly refers to heating up pre-breaded chicken fingers in the oven.) I am the one who is in charge of other people. Doing things like, well, keeping them alive. I am the one driving a mini-van, going to "meet the teacher," and signing up to be "room mom." Okay, I wasn't brave or insane enough to sign up for room mom, but it was an option on my paper. I'm approaching middle age and starting to see wrinkles. How did this happen? It just doesn't feel like me.
And then I look at the previously mentioned sweet little girl sitting in the big exam chair, and, once again, I can't believe my eyes. She's so big! She is adorably wearing the doctor's big white coat (because she was cold), has her wavy, wispy hair pulled back in a ponytail, and is smiling this little shy smile which occasionally gives you a peek at the empty space where her front teeth used to be. And I wonder, "Who is she?" My daughter is a sweet little baby with blonde ringlets and really chubby cheeks. She adores me and can always bring a smile to my face. I rock her to sleep every night and go peek at her in her crib before I go to bed. This simply can't be her. Where has the time gone?
Don't get me wrong. I love being an almost middle-aged mom with a mini-van and three kids (most of the time). And I'm glad my firstborn is growing and developing as a little girl should. But I've always found being a mom such a bittersweet experience. There is so much joy, but so much sadness, too. One day you are given this perfect (although sometimes loud and messy) gift of someone who adores you and you them, but then you spend everyday after that learning to let it go. And the closer you get to the day when you must release the gift, the faster the day approaches. You are powerless to stop it. Of course, even though you can't keep the gift forever, it's always worth the pain of letting it go to have it for a little while.
Funny, though, how the days can seem so long while you're living them, but so short when you look back at them. Today is a long day at our house, but one I need to enjoy while it's here. So, I guess I'll go find that little toothless girl and her funny brother and do something fun while the monkey baby sleeps. School begins tomorrow, and I'll have to let go a little more.