My Babies Are Growing Up!

Last week I drove by our old preschool.

This is nothing unusual; I drive by often. But this time, I happened to drive by right as school was letting out for the day. I looked over and watched as those precious little people ran into the arms of their waiting mothers, and nostalgia welled up inside of me so intense that I almost choked on it.

Our preschool days are long gone. My youngest is almost a first grader. I enjoy every stage of parenthood, but preschool was magical for me. I adored every minute of it — with all three kids.

Even when I was in the midst of it, I remember walking out of that preschool, savoring the moment, wishing I could hang onto it just a little bit longer. I miss those joyful, carefree preschool days.

Preschool Graduation, May 2011

* * *

For as long as she has had an opinion, which is pretty much since she was able to talk, my 9-year-old has been trying to grow out her hair. Unfortunately for her, she takes after me, and her hair grows at a snail’s pace. Plus it is fine and delicate and tends to get damaged by the sun and the pool so we have have had to take a few inches off at the end of every summer. So this is as long as it got.

I’ve often suggested that it would look nice if we took the length to her shoulders, but my suggestions were always met with disdain. The child was bound and determined to have long hair.

Until last week.

She came to me one day, and out of the blue announced that she wanted to cut her hair.

ARE. YOU. SURE??? I demanded.

We talked about how long it took to grow out and how much she likes having long hair, but her mind was made up. She also asked me to keep it a secret. She wanted it to be a surprise.

So we planned a “girls’ day out” on Saturday, and I made an appointment at the hair salon.

On the way to the salon, we talked, and I cautioned her to be open minded, in case she didn’t immediately love the cut.

(I know this child well. I could envision the drama that would ensue if she hated it. I was verrrrrry afraid.)

As I watched her curly blond locks gathering on the floor, I clenched the arms of my chair and mentally willed her to approve.

And even though I’ve “strongly suggested” on several occasions that her hair would look so cute at shoulder length, I admit that my mama’s heart was breaking just a bit to see those long strands falling to the floor.

I think we were both holding our breath as the hair stylist worked her magic.

The results????

You may now breathe a sigh of relief.

She likes it.

She really, really likes it!!

I like it too. So does her daddy and pretty much everyone we see. I hope she keeps it this way. It’s so much easier to care for, and so much more forgiving when it goes unbrushed. In fact, we are learning not to brush it and let the curls take over. How jealous am I of those curls? What I wouldn’t do . . .

Okay, I can’t resist. Here is one more.

She looks so grown up. Everyone says so. As much as I love the new haircut, every time I look at her, I can’t help but think that it represents how time is marching on, ready or not.

* * *

My 12-year-old son had a couple friends sleep over last night. I’ve known these kids for years, but these days every time I see them they look different. They are changing daily, I swear.

I came downstairs this morning and found the three of them snoring away on my family room floor — all in various stages of that transformation between boy and man.

My baby boy is on borrowed time. I know it.

Every time he walks by and ruffles my hair or squeezes my shoulder, I wonder if it will be the last.

And while I look forward to knowing the man he will become, my mother’s heart can’t help but break a little at the thought of him not being completely mine anymore.

I’ve heard it said, the days are long but the years are short. That is true when they are younger, but now even the days are flying by.

My mother often cautions me to slow down and enjoy it, cherish each stage, and not to work too much, because this season of life is just a blip. I look at her, now 20 years without kids at home, and I know she is so right.

* * *

I have a word for the mothers in the trenches — those of you feeling buried in diapers and sleepless nights and tempter tantrums.

It gets easier.

It really does. Yes, there are different challenges to face a they grow older, but you will eventually say good-bye to that bleary-eyed, sleep-deprived, continuously exhausted state in which you live during those baby and toddler years.

Right now you may feel like it will never end, but it will. And you might look back and even miss it just a little bit.

But then you’ll look at lanky kids in front of you and the people they are becoming and decide that this stage is mighty fine too.