My younger daughter started school this week.
She has been eagerly waiting for this day for well over a year. At four, she would walk with her older sister and I to the bus stop each morning, often wearing her own backpack, slowly creeping to the end of the bus line and the older children climbed up the steps. She followed them to the bus stairs, where we would pull her back each morning.
On Wednesday, she proudly took her place at the front of the line. She jumped up and down excitedly as the bus slowed to a stop in front of her, and then without a moment’s hesitation, she hopped up the steps and took the same seat that she has watched her sister take for the last two years. Together, my two daughters popped their sweet faces up to the window and waved goodbye with beaming smiles filled with love and excitement and the potential that the new school year always brings.
I smiled wide and waved and blew kisses. As the bus pulled away, I turned and walked home beside my husband, tears falling down my cheeks.
How am I suddenly a mother to two school aged children? Where has the past half-decade gone? Long past are the days spent changing diapers and organizing naps and quiet cuddles with nursing babies in the early morning light.
When I was that mother, I thought it would never end. I thought I’d never lose the softness of a baby’s downy head. It didn’t occur to me that the sweet milky breath of an infant would be replaced by stinky sneakers littering the hallway so quickly.
Here we are now, married for 6 years, together for a decade, full blown kids in tow who eat a lot and swim and skate; kids who need a drive to gymnastics and highland dancing; kids who bring home homework and empty lunch boxes; kids who shower and wash themselves.
While I love this moment in our family, and while I excitedly step into our new chapter, I realize that as fast as the last ten years have gone, so will too the next ten years. And when I think that way, my throat becomes awfully tight.