I have a handful of memories from my childhood, some of them I’ve recently learned are not actual memories but a fabrication of my imagination. Jack is approaching the second grade, and I can’t help but remember the summer that I turned seven and moved across the country to begin a new life in California, beginning the second grade in a new school. My own memories are short blips of days, situations or moments often pertaining to nothing incredibly poignant. I often go back to one in particular in which I am walking home from somewhere, school most likely, passing under the shade of a tree and watching my feet fall in unison one before the other. I wondered what I would look like as a grown-up, if I would have children, would I be pretty? Big things were happening in my life at that time, and yet my thoughts landed on growing up and my complete and utter desperation to do so. I can’t remember a time that I absolutely could not wait to be a woman, with that magnificent independence.
Jack and Zoe celebrated their last days of first grade and Kindergarten yesterday. I woke up early to prepare their breakfasts of choice-I never make two different things, but yesterday I obliged happily, whipping up pancakes for Zoe and French toast for Jack. Going through the motions and quietly cheering on the fact that we wouldn’t have to rush around for a couple of months, I prepared their snacks, brushed their hair, helped them write cards for their beloved teachers. Jack was a heap of emotions. He left for his last day in tears and I picked them both up appearing a little dazed. These early days of elementary school are such a huge part of their lives-everything really-and it occurred to me that while time is racing by for me as their mother, it’s creeping by moment to moment for them. I’m trying to be as emotionally available for them as I can, and putting myself directly into their dirty little worn out shoes is a key part of that.
But man, sometimes when I look at them it’s as though I haven’t seen them with my own eyes for months… I can barely breathe it’s so overwhelming. I’m terrified and saddened because the days are going so fast and I fear I haven’t absorbed every single second with them, and excited because, well, just look at them. They are brilliant and inquisitive, bright and my goodness they are simply beautiful.
They brought home all of their school work and journals yesterday, and I spent a quiet hour going through each piece with them. Watching their handwriting progress incredibly from the beginning of the year until the end, and reading stories they told with more and more detail.
Zoe dreams in rainbows, flowers and puppies and loves her little girlfriends tremendously. She wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up.
Jack details his knowledge of sports and marine mammals-a passion that I was until yesterday unaware of. He loves his daddy dearly and he can’t wait for next year so that he can “challenge himself and be smarter.”
These moments… Even just simply sitting on the couch with them, listening and watching them both show me their school work, the inside of their souls as best as they can describe it, I won’t forget it. No photos needed, no journal documented. It’ll age like golden gooey resin in my mind, the memories that parenthood materializes and becomes as much a part of me as my physical body.
The challenge, I suppose, is preserving these moments for them as well even though I know that they will and are evolving into themselves.. Now as first and second graders. I just hope-even though I’m personally happy every day to be an adult-that they don’t wish away their childhood too quickly.