Every day, I take Aileen to school. Every. Single. Day.
But some days it feels different.
We get in the car. She buckles herself up and we drive a couple miles down the road to school.
We get in the drop-off line, she unbuckles and waits patiently. When it’s our turn, a teacher opens the door for her and with an “I love you, have a great day!” she gets out and walks in to the school.
Every once in a while, like today, I watch her walk in to school and have to fight back the tears. When did my little baby get so big?
We sat tonight discussing her upcoming 8th birthday and picked out a theme and some decorations. She was so excited. She made a list of all her favorites as we scanned themes online. I watched her carefully write each letter and sound out the words. After she had her list, she went back through and picked the ones she liked the most. Then we looked at what was available decoration wise. (As much as I’d like to hand-make super cool decorations for the lesser-known themes, I just don’t have the time or energy. Party-in-a-box with a few homemade touches works for us.) I could see how happy she was to have input and make this party her own. She will have a big part in helping out this year.
Sometimes I take our conversations for granted. Sometimes I feel bad that I’m not fully awake and she’s excited as can be talking about some great idea she has and I just want a few moments of peace. I watch my son struggle with communication and not having any words and am reminded that her loquaciousness is a gift.
I make a concerted effort to pay close attention even though it’s 7:00 in the morning and I haven’t had any caffeine. We play “I spy” on the way to school and on the way home from school. I am always amazed that she stumps me! She can find the most obscure things that I never would have thought to look around for.
I watch her walk in to school and think, “Wow, where has the time gone? The little girl who used to swing my arm back and forth as we walked in to daycare has gotten so big. She doesn’t need me anymore” :(
She has her moments where she wants to be a baby and be held, because she sees brother get that attention. Sometimes I oblige. One day she won’t want anything to do with me, so when she comes up to me and says “I haven’t seen you all day! Give me a BIG hug and a kiss!” I do as she asks and hope that it sticks around a while. She sings “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” all day long complete with sound effects and voice changes. I watch her dance around and her eyes light up and my heart is full.
I’m not sure what I’m going to do when all this “little girl-ness” finally wears off completely. Shoot, I don’t know what I’m going to do when her front teeth finally grow back in! That toothless grin is so much a part of her now, I don’t want to see it gone.
But, of course, she can’t be without her front teeth forever. But, just a little longer, please?
I have fought so hard to teach her what she needs to know. Helped her strive for independence. Help her daily to love herself and not think about what others think of her. Some days she seems so much older than 7. Some days she seems like 4. I just want to hang on to her a little while longer.
Parenting can be such a paradox. We want our to children to grow in to amazing, responsible, independent adults, yet we just want to hold them and shield them from the perils of this world. I know I can’t hold on to her forever, but I hope she stays little, for at least a little while longer.
I think tomorrow is going to be another one of those days where I stay in the drop-off line just a little bit longer until she is safely in the school, hoping that she turns one last time to wave and blow me a kiss. Momma loves you, too, sweet girl.