Some things just move a bit too fast for me. Last week was a stark reminder of this as I sent my sixth grader off for Outdoor Ed and attended an information night at Oakdale High for her brother. That’s a lot to take in, in one short week.
Before expanding on the emotions of the week, to the veterans – I know … “just wait.” As the window of their growth continues to close in on us, I often find myself stopping in my tracks. Their wings continue to grow, just as they should – but man it’s hard.
Their hands are no longer small, I feel as if I’m shrinking both physically as well as in stature as they grow around me like strong oaks. Time truly seems to be slipping past us.
Last week began being a bit taken aback by the emotion I felt dropping my baby (aka sixth grader) off at school, geared up and ready for her Outdoor Ed adventure. As I drove away my eyes became wet and my chest shook a bit – emotion. But why? I’d done this before, just two short years prior. Why was I so emotional?
Naturally I knew I would miss her. I also knew she’d be fine and have the time of her life; at least that’s what I hoped for. I think it was more the reality of another milestone for my youngest that hit me hardest.
This coupled with knowing later that week I would be sitting in the OHS Gym getting the down low on my son’s freshman year of high school, well it just seemed a bit too much.
As my son and I drove to the Junior High the first morning, we recognized that come fall our morning school commute would not only change but actually be less time consuming. No longer would we need to swing by the northwest end of town. The campus we had called “home” since 2010 would now become a memory.
This would be the place where I feel it necessary to repeat what I’ve shared many times before in this space. Parents of wee ones … please put your phones down. Please look up more and save those “must share” moments which require your phone for when they are napping or in bed. A trip to the park seems like the perfect time to “check out” for a bit – wrong! That playground will sooner than you realize become too small for them and trust me, you’ll miss it.
I actually had this same talk with myself last week, at a somewhat different degree. Sitting in the OHS gym last Thursday night, my eyes once again became damp.
I’ve been in and out of that gym a lot the past 18 years, school news after all is my job. Yet here I was sitting among my dearest mommy friends, looking at the faces of staff and administrators in a new light.
As the meeting concluded, as I questioned where had the time gone, one girlfriend shared her thoughts and emotion. Just four years left and they’re off to college, how it that possible?
“I’m not ready for this,” she stated out loud. Each of us quickly in agreement.
The bond we’ve shared as mommies, did not begin in childhood, like many fortunate friend groups in this lil’ town. We happened by each other waiting outside of a school hallway when these very same, soon to be freshmen, were simple kindergartners. Since that time, this has been our village. More than my “mommies,” they have become surrogate family to myself as well as my children. A cousin type connection continuing the bond between our children and a sisterhood among each other (husbands included).
This group, this village, which allows complete transparency without judgement remains one of the best parts of this whole parenting journey.
As we sat and shared a cocktail post-meeting, speaking both of the future journey and fears for our “bigs” who have so much to learn and our “littles” who would return the very next day from Outdoor Ed, eyes became wet again.
There’s a lot I’m grateful for in this life and this past week, like never before it was the strength, love and connection of this “village.”
Those who have journeyed this before us, many of you I know understand this. Those in the trenches alongside, my deepest wish is you have the same and for those whose eyes this catches as your toddler naps … Foster those relationships. Yes, our wee ones need us, but I promise you the time will come when their wings expand beyond their mommies’ arms and you, well you will need the arms of one such village to be there for you.
Thank you my dear, sweet village. Deep breaths taken, our babies are beginning to try their wings and with our deep rooted faith as well as unshakeable bond, they will be fine and so will we. God willing, with a few cocktails, belly laughs and wet eyes included.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.