My husband has tried to convince me to get rid of the old rocking chair that sits in my 4.5 year old’s bedroom many times. He says it takes up too much space. We bought it from a yard sale group on Facebook before she was born and I have spent countless, priceless hours in it with her. We definitely got our money’s worth. That old chair doesn’t see much action these days but I just can’t part with it. Not yet. See, the moments in that chair are rare, but they’re so special. Last night was one of those rarities; one that brought me to joyful, nostalgic, bittersweet tears. I’m running out of time.
In one week, my first baby will start GA Pre-K, which is Georgia’s official pre-school program (she’s academically and emotionally ready for Kindergarten, in my opinion, but her birthday misses the state cut-off by 17 days). It dawned on me a few weeks ago that I was rapidly running out of summer. Running out of time with her. And I started freaking out. The end of summer had never been an issue before because while she’s been in private pre-school for nearly 2-years, it was on my terms. I got to decide when she got dropped off and picked up and when she stayed home and when she went to school. But all that is changing now. My oldest baby will be in school M-F from 8:00-2:30, just like a big kid. And I only have a week until that starts.
Once I realized time was slipping away, I started trying to cram “summer” into three weeks. We’ve had ice cream and popsicles. We’ve eaten lunch and dinner outside. We’ve played with sprinklers and kiddie pools. We’ve gone swimming. We’ve gone to Chuck E. Cheese’s. We’ve picked dandelions. We’ve lit fireworks, stayed up late, and had dance parties. We’ve gone to playgrounds, eaten cake pops, and cruised the mall. Todd even took her fishing. Later this week I hope to take A on an overnight trip, just her and me; one last “hoorah” before we settle into our first real school year together.
Do you know we only get 18 summers with our kids before they leave for college?
This is the end of my summer #5 with her. Only 13 more.
Mom guilt rushes over me a lot. I’ve been home full-time for months and yet I still sent her to school 3x a week. I know in my heart that’s what we both needed but hindsight can be a real jerk sometimes. Hindsight makes me feel guilty. Have I spent enough time with her? The truth is, A is my life’s greatest challenge; I firmly believe God sent her to humble me. She and I can be like fire and gasoline sometimes and
we I definitely need the time apart. But when we’re not butting heads, she’s the sugar on top of my strawberries; she melts just right and makes everything sweeter.
Back to the rocking chair. Last night, A woke up to use the bathroom and was crying because she didn’t feel well (she has been under the weather for 2 days now). After she was done in the restroom, I scooped all 42 pounds of her up in my arms and we rocked in that old rocking chair, chest to chest with her long legs straddled around my waist, just like she did as a baby. She found a bare spot on my chest and rested her sweet face on my skin. While we rocked, she fell asleep. And I held her. And I cried.
I cried because I was overcome with love. I cried because I know these moments are numbered. I cried because I remembered the nights I nursed and held her in that chair for hours because she wouldn’t sleep without me. I cried because I couldn’t remember the last time she slept on my chest. I cried because she’s growing up so fast and isn’t going to stop anytime soon. I cried because my baby – my first baby – isn’t a baby at all anymore (and hasn’t been for awhile). I cried because it won’t be like this for long. I cried because being her mom is my greatest challenge and my greatest joy. I cried because we need each other.
I cried because for a brief moment, time stood still.
I have one week of summer left with my oldest girl. I plan to spend it by putting some more miles on that old chair.