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.

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40 thoughts on “My Babies Are Growing Up!

  1. Aw! What a way to start the week! I have one graduating Kindergarten and one graduating preschool next week. My baby will be in preschool next year, and the oldest will be 2 years closer to graduating from high school. It does go fast.

    My daughter’s hair is pretty fine, too, plus straight. When she cut her hair about 2 years ago, I had the stylist angle the sides and cut it shoulder length. It’s perfect for her! She has beautiful eyes and a wonderful smile. The long hair hid these features, though I do miss the possibilities of long hair.

  2. aww you made me cry! My husband & I can’t decide if we are ‘done’ having babies or not (we will adopt a child later when our kids are bigger) and with my youngest turning 2 and my oldest turning 5 this summer I’m a big emotional mess about them growing up. I think that having a boy makes me more emotional because they kind of stop lovin on their mamas at a certain age and the girls usually come around eventually and will hug their mama at least LOL

  3. Wonderful post and YES…I sound like my Grandma when I say it but these days just blaze by. Understanding the fragility and quickness of these years has made me say things and plan things I swore I never would do: we take our daughter on almost every single vacation, we are planning to move to a house with a pool because I want her to WANT to hang out at our house, etc, etc. She will be an 8th grader next year: that’s just 5 more Christmases while living in our house, 5 more summers, Easters, etc etc. We will soak up every minute of it!

    As for the hair, love the cut. Somehow all is well when it is THERE idea, eh ? Do you have a diffuser for your blow dryer? Her curls will look great when dried with a diffuser.

  4. Sigh. I know how you feel. Thing 1 is about 6 weeks away from getting his learners. Someone asked me the other day for advice on the terrible 2s and I told her to cherish them. 🙂

    Gorgeous kids!

  5. The haircut looks great! I was thinking the same thing, she looks grown up. I wish my 14 yr old would cut her hair. She likes it long so she can pull it back into a ponytail, but it is so thick.
    I know exactly what you mean about the years going by so fast. My girls are 19 (just finished her first year in college) and 14 (going to be in high school), and I often long for the younger years. Not the infant years with getting up all night and changing diapers, but it’s the toddler and preschool years that I miss. I really don’t know where the time goes. Once they start school, it just flies by. And, as my kids get older, I get older, and I certainly don’t like that!!

    1. LOL, yeah, that is the other side of the coin! I don’t relish the aging process either – but then, as my mother always says, the alternative isn’t that desirable either. 🙂

  6. Sigh. Some moms are still “in the trenches,” as you say. And some are wise, as you are, and are in driving along the parenting road, realizing that the car has sped up to high speed, and the next few years will clip by like mile markers. Clip, clip, clip. Then they’re gone. I’m on the other end: three gone, only one little girl left at home. My 21 year old son is back with us for the summer, but he’s not a boy anymore, and I can’t baby him much at all. He’s a grown man. I told my son, who graduated h.s. on Saturday, as we walked along holding hands (we don’t do this often), that maybe the next time we hold hands and swing our arms together, there will be a little 2 year old boy between us, and we’ll be swinging him 🙂 That made him smile. At some point, you have to look forward to the grands!

    1. I was just reading back through the comments and now I’m crying again. I found myself recently figuring out the number of years between my youngest wanting to snuggle in my lap (she’s seven) and the older kids possibly having a grandchild (their 17 and 15).. I’m thinking maybe the gap may be about five years or so. I’ll live through it somehow!

  7. Jo-Lynne, I got choked up reading your post. It is unbelievable how quickly our babies grow up. My oldest just finished his first year of high school. On Easter, it dawned on me that we only had three more Easters together before he goes to college. I’m not sure why that thought popped into my head but it was definitely a reminder to cherish each day because they are going by so quickly, and each year seems to go by faster than the last.

  8. My kids are 17 and 20, and yes, the years fly by, but what I find interesting is that when I stroll down memory lane out loud, they join in with THEIR fondest memories of when they were smaller and all the things they did with us or with friends. so while they might not realize how swift the years go by when THEY’RE younger, they do remember them with fondness when they’re older.

    What I’m struggling with is figuring out how to ‘parent’ the 20 year old. He still lives at home and works full time until he decides on college, and I know he’s not a kid anymore, but I need to figure out how the change in relationship should work! (I can still tell him to do his mountain of laundry, but I can’t tell him what decisions to make. I can just hope he makes the right ones, or at least learns from the bad ones!)

  9. I’m crying too! Thank you for this great post Jo-Lynne! I still have moments of missing the pre-school/baby days and my baby is finishing first grade. They do grow so quickly. Love the hair cut!!

  10. I’m not even a mother (or married for that matter) and this made me choke up!!!!!! So precious.

  11. I needed this today after a weekend of not sleeping (and just wishing I could go back to work because at least I get a break for 8 hours at work.) I am somewhat wishing for those days it gets easier, because at least I may get some sleep then.

  12. This was good for me. My mom said to me today that it feels like the days are flying by referring to their pending trip to see us. I thought to myself (as children bickered about whatever it was and food was in various stages of being eaten or thrown to the floor) “my days are d.r.a.g.g.i.n.g.”. I know though, that this time is short so I need to be looking for the sweet moments.

    The haircut is really cute. I realized when you said to breath a sigh of relief that I actually had been rather uptight wondering. Probably b/c I was imaging myself with my oldest! It makes me wonder if my curly head would benefit from a shorter cut.

    One day I saw a mom walking into the library with her son who was taller than her. It kinda freaked me out to think that my sweet little toddler would one day look down to me!

  13. This is the first time that I’ve heard it actually gets easier and I thank you for those encouraging words. I am one of those moms in the trenches as I type this. I have a 2 and 1/2 year old and a 3 month old and it is SO challenging that I worry it will keep getting harder because that’s how it seems at this stage. Really, the baby is a breeze, the most content child ever. It is my toddler and her tantrums that exhaust me. I know I need to try to enjoy these stages even though they don’t seem so enjoyable at the moment. I am aware of how fast that first year goes by and I am trying to treasure every baby moment. I was holding my toddler the other day and realized she is now a little girl and not my little baby that she was such a short time ago. And I realized soon she will be an adolescent who won’t let me hold her anymore. So I try to make mental snapshots that I can store in the treasure chest of my heart for the time being. Thanks for this post as it is an encouragement to all mothers at every stage.

  14. At the realization that we are, in fact, moving in two weeks (the house is DONE…yeah!) and the fact that Ryan will be 10 in a month and your post, I am now a basket case. Fabulous.

  15. Wow, they grow so fast, don’t they?! I remember when David was born and came home in that little glow worm blanket! It is wild to watch them grow and having the older ones definitely helps me appreciate the sweet moments with Clara:)

  16. I cried on the last day of school again this year. I thought I would do better this year because it was first grade and we are just moving to second and that isn’t such a big move, but it is. It is such a big move. It is closing the door on being a little kid and my heart aches for what we are leaving behind even as it looks ahead at what is to come.

  17. I appreciate your positivity, Jo-Lynne. I am enjoying these baby/preschooler days, but am also looking forward to the days ahead – days withOUT carseats and WITH more sleep. 🙂

  18. As a curly-haired girl I would like to say thank you for acknowledging the fact that your daughter has curly hair. It’s a completely different beast the straight hair – and can be so much fun. (Although you may already know this – you might have curly hair as well….)

    Beautiful children 🙂 Keep having fun with them 🙂

  19. I don’t know how I missed this post until now. But OMG Jo-Lynne. I’m CRYING. Maybe because I’m in the midst of the “17 month old and almost 4 year old stage” – where the days feel IMPOSSIBLY long, and I struggle to enjoy and cherish some moments (yes, even preschool). It’s encouraging to hear it gets easier – or different. I’ve felt that even now – as Maggie is no longer an infant and more fun – it’s easier. Sure, harder in some ways. And I sometimes long for the days of older kids – where sleeping isn’t as fragile (we’re still in the stage that long days or missed naps are a punishment for the parents and no one wins), and we can go on all sorts of fun adventures. Since Maggie’s birth until now, I’ve felt a little home bound. Oh sure, we do fun things. But not quite the adventures I have in mind: fun day trips, exciting travels and vacations. I know those days will come and I’m excited for them! But your post gave me the much needed reminder to STOP. ENJOY. CHERISH.

    I will keep it in mind tomorrow. Thanks J 🙂

    1. My mom always says, “It doesn’t get easier, it just gets different.” Which I suppose is true, to a point, but I feel that sleep is highly underrated, and I am much happier now that I’m getting some. 🙂 Plus it just doesn’t take the same amount of physical energy to parent as they get older – emotional, for sure. But that’s a different kind of tired. 🙂

      Definitely cherish it. It flies. 🙂

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