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When Your Baby Goes Back to School

My oldest child started eighth grade this past week, and when I allow my mind to dwell on the shock of that fact long enough, it almost makes my brain hurt -- just like when I tried to imagine my parents' age as a child.
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Objects in the mirror may be closer than they appear. Perspective. It's a lesson learned on day one of driving school.

It's the awe in a preschooler's voice, as they ask why the sun follows along everywhere they go.

It's the amazement in a parent's eyes as they wonder how their oldest seems so very big now that they are next to a newborn. The same older child who looked so small mere weeks ago, now looks like a little giant next to his newborn brother or sister.

It's the maddening conundrum behind why it feels your child can't possibly be as old as she is -- she can't possibly be ready for kindergarten or the second, the fifth or the ninth grade when surely she was just a baby just yesterday.

Remember as a kid thinking how your parents seemed so old, when you tried to imagine what it must be like to reach the 30s or the 40s but you gave up because it just boggled your mind to think about? And looking back now, you realize they were actually so young -- you just didn't realize it at the time?

An inescapable fact of life, our current perspective shapes both our memories of the past, our view of the present, and our imagining of the future. Much like mountains appear bigger or smaller depending on our distance from them, so too do those moments that define our relationships.

My oldest child started eighth grade this past week, and when I allow my mind to dwell on the shock of that fact long enough, it almost makes my brain hurt -- just like when I tried to imagine my parents' age as a child.

The irony is that with each new age and stage my oldest child reaches, it's always hard to believe, when the new season first arrives. But time marches on, and eventually my youngest child reaches that same age and stage. And only then do I look back and realize that that particular age really wasn't so old after all. I look at my oldest -- always 2.5 years ahead of her younger sister, and again I think no, now this feels old. "How could she be old enough for eighth grade?" I wonder.

My perspective is always a work in progress, just like yours. I am learning that objects in life's mirror are closer than they appear. As fast as it sometimes feels my kids are growing up, they're still right here beside me. They're still tucked safely in the nest here at home.

I'm learning to embrace the years I have left to teach them and watch them grow, while giving thanks for the years we've already weathered. Now if I could only learn to resist begging time to slow down!

Whether it's the night before kindergarten or the week before high school starts, hold your babies tight. Trust that the weight of all your pouring into your little people is greater than the sum of it's parts. Give them a blessing and send them on their way with a grateful heart. Then come cry on my shoulder if you need to -- you know where to find me.