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What Do You Mean The Party’s Over? I Just Got Here.

Tomorrow is the last day of Kindergarten and I suddenly find myself not ready for it to end. The kids are ready- they are excited for summer and the intellectual challenge of Kindergarten faded months ago, but I think they also have a tremor of trepidation at moving up. Kindergarten is safe and familiar to them- the friends and simple routines that move them through the days. But again, summer is gleaming just out of reach, like a much craved treat- so I know they will shed any fears as easily as dropping their backpacks when getting home from school.

I, on the other hand, was just getting into the swing of things. I was finally starting to recognize the moms and know which kid went with which parent (next year in the student directory- how about pictures of the kids AND parents, please?!). I was reveling in their growing independence and confidence. Now, seemingly suddenly, everyone is ready to close the chapter on this year. I keep thinking of a high school friend of mine who’s twin sons are just graduating from high school. High school! And I am sure she feels like it went by in a blink. I have this unreasonable feeling that I am going to wake up tomorrow to fully formed teenagers donning caps & gowns and heading off to college too.

As a parent of twins, I have the incredible gift of two children to watch through each stage, however, like a singleton parent, I also get only one “shot” at each milestone. We will not pass this way again. Kindergarten is in the books and there is no second chance to do the year “better” or differently. Not that I would change anything- it’s just the finality of it.

In our upstairs hallway, like many families, we have picture frames with dozens of pictures nestled together, chronicling our adventures and the growth of the girls to this point. I am finding myself slowing to stare at their faces, the younger versions of them forever receding from the present as if carried backwards on a conveyor belt into my memory. If I pause, I can sort of “zoom in” and rekindle the moment- whether it’s the touch of baby-soft skin, the smell of infant hair, or the squirmy hugs of toddler. But then it’s gone- that connection with memory is fleeting.

This morning, when I gathered my daughters, by turns, into my lap for a cuddle- they spilled out of my lap, all long arms and legs. They would settle into stillness for a moment, their heads just resting under my chin (if I raised mine a little), and I tried to breathe in this moment- to imprint in my memory.

So, I am left with this feeling that I have just arrived at a party, in time to see everyone filling out the back door- headed on to the next adventure, their laughter drifting back into the house, echoing for a moment before fading away. I don’t want to call them back, at least not in my head (my heart may tell you a different tale), but I yearn for the chance to pause time, so that I could linger among the sights, sounds, and feelings of the moment- the way you would take in the wares in a beloved antique store.

Maybe that is what we do as parents- collect and catalog memories (along with a myriad of physical reminders) like the owner of an antiques shop, presiding over them- dusting, repairing, treasuring them, so that when our children return as customers, eager to relive or try them out, we are ready with just the right piece for their collection.

I invite you to share your thoughts on these milestones or share this post, if it resonated with you! Thanks, as always, for reading.

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