Our children are always growing. It is the natural progression of the human existence. I like to watch the new growth on the trees in our yard this time of year. I keep my eye on the buds on the branches, I take pictures of them, I look at them in the morning when I leave for work and then again when I get home, somehow imagining that I will actually be present for that moment that they burst into a full blown leaf. But like our children, the buds on those trees transform slowly and methodically until one day, out of seemingly nowhere, they are full grown leaves.
I am aware that my girls have grown. And I'm sure it happened gradually and slowly like the leaves but it feels like they just burst overnight. When I woke up yesterday morning I could hear Callie and Lexi whispering in the kitchen. Something along the lines of surprising me with breakfast. I sat in my bed listening to them, debating how long I would let them continue because for as cute as they were, I will admit, I had a slight concern about the kind of mess I would also be greeted with. As I sat there and listened to my sweet girls working together in full cooperation after a goods night rest I thought, "When did this happen? When did it happen that I didn't have to jump out of bed to feed a baby, change a diaper, hurry to get a toddler to the potty, or worry about them falling down the stairs?" I got up after Callie had finished grinding the coffee beans and I found Lexi making peanut butter crackers and Callie asking where to put the coffee filter.
They were so proud. And so was I.
With spring finally winning the battle, we have spent a lot of time at the park. There are several parks in the area but they always want to go to the one with the big blue slide. And if we want to use the park as our measuring stick for growth... big girl can finally reach the monkey bars. And she is determined to master them this summer.
And little sister may not be able to reach the monkey bars, but she's owning this park... climbing the ladders and riding the slide without mom's arms stretched out waiting to be the safety and security that she once needed. And when its time to go home, she manoeuvres into her car seat and buckles up the five point harness refusing all help.
With Callie's preschool days quickly coming to an end and as we talk about her going to kindergarten, making decisions about how and where she will be spending the next 13 years, part of me wants to hang on to her. I'm not ready to let her go yet. I want to start researching home-schooling and alternative education.
But in the end, I know she will go on. And as much as I want to keep her close, to protect her, to hang on... there is excitement in watching my little bud grow and ask questions about school and what she will do there and what she will learn and who she will meet. She smiles when she talks about walking to school, "or maybe I'll ride the bus, mom."
And I'm so glad that I still have a whole summer to sit with my mixed feelings. We will have some lazy beach days and more trips to the park. There is lots of ice cream and Mr. Freezies to be eaten. Campfires and hot dogs to be had. Holidays and late nights. And when it is time to let her go, I will keep all weepy feelings behind closed doors and I will join in her excitement and enthusiasm...
...and she will soar.