|Pictured here reading another Eager book, Half Magic|
I was working in the kitchen when she ran in from the living room. "I finished!" she exclaimed, a wide grin shining on her face. I scooped her up and hugged her tight, both of us so proud, so delighted at her accomplishment.
And then she began to sob, burying her head in my shoulder.
"What's wrong?" I asked.
"It's just... I didn't want it to be over. I loved the Natterjack."
I tried to explain that wonderful thing about books, how you could just pick them up and start all over again, and those characters would be right there waiting for you like they never left, but she just shook her head, unsatisfied.
"But it won't be the same. It won't ever be the first time again."
I wanted to keep holding her forever. I felt it too, that ambivalence: the joy that comes with each milestone, but also the sorrow, because moving on always means leaving something behind.
In fact, I feel it all the time. Watching my children grow in all the big ways and little ways that they do, I know that change is constant. I tend to be a person who holds on, but parenthood has helped me appreciate the art of letting go.
|A page from C's current WIP.|
Even though I recognize how important this is, it is never easy. It means growth, of course; it means pushing upward, striving. But it also means accepting the loss of what came before.
Our family is on the brink of big changes right now. C begins public school next week; D will be returning to preschool. While we are used to an abundance of time with our children, we will suddenly be faced with a scarcity of it. I'm not quite sure how that will go, for any of us. But I know that we will adjust, eventually. We will thrive on our new routines, and because our together-time will be more precious, we will appreciate it all the more. I trust this to be true.
But for now, I hold on. Even though, sometimes, my long days with the children have felt endless, now that they are numbered I treasure them. I love my children as they are right now, how they are filled with so much sweetness and energy and mischief and goofiness. How they invent elaborate games; how they tie strings to their toys and dangle them off the deck to put on marionette shows. How they spend hours digging a giant hole in the backyard, digging deep, with strange urgency. (We have to find Mother Earth, they explained. She is very old, and she will die soon. We have to take care of her children.)
And next week I will let go. I will kiss my daughter goodbye on her first day of school, and she will leave to have adventures that belong to only her. I will cook oatmeal and slice apples for my son's preschool class. I will love watching them grow, and change. Our weeks will be filled up, but it will be good. And there will still be plenty of time for reading, and puppet shows. Plenty of time for digging deeper holes.
We will adjust. After all, this is parenthood. This is life.