« The Great Cartoon Debate, Part IV: Quiz Time | Main | Dave Winer is Still a Dick »

Weaving time in a tapestry

One concept, two readings:

Natalie says: Whoo! I'm done with junior high today!

Mom says: My daughter is starting high school three months.

My. Daughter. High. School.

Fear strikes my heart. Thoughts invade my brain.

BoyfriendsdrivingpeerpressurecollegeboyfriendsSATcollegetuitionyou'regetting
oldboyfrienssheisnotgoingtoreallydriveisshehowthehellamIgoingtopayforcollege
shebetternothangoutwiththatcrowdokshe'snotallowedtodateuntilshe's18
andIwon'tletherdriveuntilshe's21andIcanalwayssellmykidneysifshereallywantstogotoHofstra.

It's a mantra that's been haunting me for weeks and now it's just like one big word that invades my brain every time I try to sleep. And when I'm not fearing the future, I'm mourning the passage of time. Can someone explain to me how three years can feel like one day?

Natalie's whole stint in junior high has been documented right here. Maybe that's why it seems to have gone so fast; I've been writing this weblog even longer than she spent in that school.

Some of you have been around here since the beginning and thus, you've watched Nat grow up. Together, we went through the trials and tribulations of her first boyfriend, her first smackdown, her cell phone poetry, the frank sexual discussions, her Katie Ka-Boom tendencies and everything in between.

On her birthday this year, I wrote:

But oh, how right they are. Believe it when they tell you that time goes so fast your head will spin. Everything goes by in a blur; trying to recapture all the moments is like trying to catch all the scenery on a car trip while you're doing 80mph. Vroom. Swooosh. Firststepstoilettrainingnurseryschoollongdivisionpubertyhighschool.
When she was crawling, I wished that she would walk. When she was walking, I wished she would stay still. When all she could do was cry, I wished she could talk. Now I wish she would just stay quiet for ten seconds at a time. When she was four, I couldn't wait until she was older so we could stay up late drinking tea while she told me about her first date. Now, I wish she was four again.

Yes. I want it back. I want all that time back. The days spent lounging in the backyard looking at clouds. The mommy and me classes. The story hours at the library. Sesame Street. Disney on Ice. The lullabyes. The walks with the stroller and the fussing in the car seat and the crying in the middle of the night. The scrawled Mother's Day cards, the lopsided pigtails, the innocent questions about everything.

I'm sure that four years from now, when she's graduating high school, I'll be waxing nostalgic about the present time. Well, maybe. How much can one miss the Great Eye Roll, the snarky remarks, the sarcasm, the feeling that no matter what you do, you'll just never please your child?

Ok, so there are the good things about my child getting older. She's more independent, she doesn't need me as much as she used to.

Wait? That's supposed to be a good thing? Then why does it make me feel so sad at times?

Fear of high school keeps me awake at night. The fact the she doesn't fear it all and, in fact, can't wait until September fills my dreams with the monsters known as Boyfriends and Peer Pressure. Nevermind the SATs and regents exams, at least those she can study for. There is no guidebook for dealing with sweet talking high school boys or friends dangling beer bottles and cigarettes in front of you.

I know, I worry too much. It's my job to worry, though. I can't help but look at this:

and feel my hair blow back as the woosh of time rushes past me.

I suppose I should take a lesson from myself. When she was five, I lost sleep over sending her to kindergarten. Each rite of passage brought new fears and more hand wringing. Three years ago, when she graduated from elementary school, I was terrified of what fates awaited her in the dreaded middle school. She seems to have gotten out of there ok, and most of my fears were unfounded, products of reading too many alarming articles about what teenage girls are up to these days.

I look forward to her future with uncertainty, I look to her past with a twinge of nostalgia. I need to do some deep breathing. Relax, let the summer unfold and September approach without all this overwrought trepidation or teary-eyed reminiscing. I hear the concept of living in the present is a pretty good one, if done right. I just might try that. I just might concentrate on who she is today and grab those few moments where we are getting along and enjoy them without those fears or regrets or nighttime monster sharing the stage.

I should take my own advice: Pictures, videos, memories. Hold them all dear because one day they are sleeping soundly in a crib and the next they're getting a job and you need something to keep track of all the days in between.

That's kind of hard to do when you're spending so much time fending off the future. So I hereby vow to concentrate on today, not yesterday and not tomorrow. At least for the summer.

Comments

I hear ya. It feels like overnight, Matthew became a little boy. He's not my baby anymore. And he's only 2 1/2. This is rough work.

And Natalie is just the cutest. I would miss seeing that little girl running around, too.

Yup. I was upset when I took my daughter to her first day of pre-school! They had social workers there if there was separation anxiety but they were only there for the kids!!! What about mine!?! Since 9/11 I have tried, not always successfully, to live in the moment with my children. Thanks for the reminder of how important that is as I catch myself wishing, like you did, that they'd get to that next stage already. Bittersweet, isn't it?

This is the advice I give every girl I know as she is about to enter high school:

Anything a Junior or Senior boy tells you is a lie.

If they tell you that you are pretty, they are trying to hook up. If they tell you that you are smart, they are trying to hook up. If they do anything or say anything, they are trying to hook up.

You, freshman girl, are as they say "fresh meat". And as such, avoid Juniors and Seniors your freshman year. Look at them, but do not talk to them. Hang out with freshman and sophomores only, and the year will be a very happy one.

To this day, not one of the girls believed me when I gave this advice, and yet as they have graduated from high school, not one of them said I was wrong.

Good Luck Nat, and stay away from the older boys!

T

My daughter just graduated from HS last week. Her dad is the one who got all teary eyed; I was too busy just beaming at her. If you think the first 14 years went by so fast you could "feel my hair blow back as the woosh of time rushes past me," my advice for the next 4 years is "don't blink."

Your "frank sexual discussion" was hysterical, thanks for the laugh!

Don't worry, your beautiful daughter will be just fine. As long as she has a loving mom looking out for her. :-)

I can top all of you. My daughter just graduated from COLLEGE 2 weeks ago. And it seems like all the experiences you mentioned...from preschool to middle school to high school were ALL yesterday.
But I can tell you from experience that each stage in their lives has its own unique wonders (as well as its own unique aggravations), its own precious memories and its own rewards.
I remember when my daughter, age 12, asked me why the boys snickered when someone asked for #69 on their team uniform, what did that number mean anyway? And then last year, when she was 21 and home from college on break, I went into her room to open a window and she had left a gigantic vibrator lying on her unmade bed. (BTW, I never mentioned it.)
But the chord that sounds throughout is that the love that exploded into your heart when she was born carries through into adulthood, and you have this wonderful grown-up person to talk with and share with and spend time with, and while it's different than those early years, it's incredible in a whole different way.
Enjoy the journey - each phase really is precious.
(Plus it's quite gratifying when they get out into the 'real world' and want advice instead of being so sure they know everything. I haven't seen an eye-roll in a very long time now.)
PS. Absolutely love your blog. Every day is something great.

Yeah. Mine's now 6'2", and a soldier. Sometimes, when I go to meet him,I look for the choirboy with floppy blond hair, and fail to recognise the crewcut adult.Time goes very fast as a parent.

Okay, I've got you all covered! My baby girl will be 48 this summer. And I am just as proud of her, maybe more so, than I was when she was 2. She is a sweetheart. She was born with a smile, a kind heart and wisdom. But I still miss my little children. I look at their grown faces and I still see their innocence inside. I love all three very deeply and am proud, proud, proud of them all.

It's your job to worry Michele. You worked hard for this, you earned it by God, and no one is taking it away from you.

You'll be ok.

You know we just graduated the oldest girl from HS. In all the hubbub I nearly forgot youngest girl is starting high school too.

deeeeeep breath

ok, let's go.

I feel for you, Michele, since I'm in the same boat with my son. I can NOT believe he is starting high school in less than 2months! I'll be stressing right along with you....hang in there!

This is probably because I'm still single, but your post was profoundly beautiful =). Good luck! Doubt you'll need it.

My oldest daughter will be 30 in August. 30. Thirty. I remember her learning to walk about, oh, 20 minutes ago.

My baby is 25 with 3 children of her own. My middle is 28 with one son and another on the way.

I'm only 18. I swear. Time warp, you know.

Elizabeth
Imperial Keeper

I'll be graduating from college in a year.

I think I've turned out pretty well. Those fearful feelings will turn into feelings of pride as your daughter grows and begins to make her own good decisions, those are the sentiments of my parents, b/c I think I've turned out relatively well and they had a big part in it.