Summer is waning, much as I hate to admit it. I glanced at the calendar the other day and realized that, in four weeks, school begins. My daughter starts 4th grade on a Tuesday, and my son begins kindergarten two days later, a shortened week of two 1/2 days before beginning full days the following week.
And I was browsing our community magazine a day or two ago, looking at the library's offerings for children, preschool story times, baby sign classes, and realized: It's over. My boy is too old for story time now, we've left it behind. We've left behind the diapers, first steps, nap times, all those baby things I love.
This is what we work for, as parents, we work to leave behind the baby years, we nurture our children and encourage them to take risks, feed them their fruits and vegetables, push them out and away from our protecting arms because it is what we are supposed to do. They are supposed to grow and change and leave us.
But I don't want them to leave me.
I am just past 40 now, closing in on 41 -- my birthday is in just a few weeks. I spent the decade of my 30s focused on babies -- having them, wanting them, overcoming the grief of losing one, deciding whether or not to have anymore. We first started trying for a baby when I was 29, though didn't manage pregnancy for over a year, along with the help of medical intervention, and my first child was born when I was 31. Three years later, Ben. 20 months after that, James, just before I turned 36. Followed by four more years of wanting another, debating having another, knowing all the while that there would be no more babies for us. (I am not quite reconciled to this decision, nor do I think I will ever be.)
And though there are many years of parenting ahead of me, I am having trouble letting go of that baby-obsessed decade. I'm having trouble letting go of the best things I've ever done, trouble pushing them out of the nest. And this is what it comes down to: letting them go, when I will always want to hold them in my arms like I did when they were born.
There is so much I didn't know: how hard it would be, nor how wonderful. How fast they would grow and leave me behind.