Sure, Ava had only just turned two when we moved out of our cookie cutter townhouse in Bartlett and into our "new" 100-year old Bay View home. But something about the way we had always lived was shifting. I had spent the previous four years in a quiet suburb with at least one baby in a stroller at any given time. My days were filled with Mommy and Me classes, walks to the park, and multiple viewings of Elmo's World. Now Juliana was starting school, and although I still had Ava with me during the day we had ditched the stroller by the time summer came around. We finally found babysitters that allowed Jason and I to get out on date nights on a regular basis- in a town where we actually had places we wanted to go and things to do! It felt like a whole new world was opening. I realized that this meant that my previous world was also ending but I didn't fully internalize the meaning of it until much later.
Two years passed and Ava started K4. I took up running and began meeting all the wonderful people that fill out the circle of friends that I have today. Holy cow, it had been so long since I'd had a circle of friends! By now Juliana and Ava were starting to build friendship circles of their own- outside of friend's children that I had set up play dates with. They started becoming their own people with likes, dislikes and personalities all of their own. They began talking about things they had learned from other kids at school- computer games, catch phrases from tv shows I hadn't seen, and oh, all the YouTube videos. They knew how to work the universal tv remote and all it's options and I didn't. I needed a lesson from Juliana on how to use my phone.
Last week did something I wasn't sure I had the emotional fortitude to do. I put the old Little Tykes plastic car the girls used to ride around out in the alley by the trash. I wrote about it last year because I didn't think I'd ever be able to let it go and what it symbolized. Part of me still can't believe I actually let it go but I set it out by the trash bins and ran away before I could change my mind. An hour later I checked to see if it was still there (and possibly drag it back into the garage) but it was already gone. I spent so many afternoons in our driveway watching one (or both) of them toddling around in that car. First Juli, then Juli pushing Ava, and finally Ava by herself. That $1 garage sale car represented a time where people still came up to me in the grocery store to ask how old my baby was. It was a time when little girls in my house still said words like "bookee" (spooky), "gubs" (gloves) and "swimsoop" (swimsuit). It represented something I didn't have anymore.
But what DO I have? I have two wonderfully imaginative, intelligent, creative, (and yes, a bit nerdy) young ladies. This makes me happy beyond all measure. But I'm also sad for what I no longer have. People always tell you when you have a baby that children grow up in a blink of an eye. When you're up in the middle of the night feeding a baby who won't go back to sleep it feels like words like these are a joke. Little milestones pass one by one though, and everything is so exciting that you never realize the quickness of it all until your almost-eleven-year-old is talking about Twilight and wants to get a Facebook account.
I can remember being in sixth grade so clearly. My friends, what I worried about, what I wore, how I wanted people to see me… all if it remains so vivid to me that sometimes I can't believe that I have a CHILD who is now that same age and living through those same feelings. Middle school was also the time in my life that I started seeing my own mom as a "person" and not as someone who just was there to take care of me. It blows my mind sometimes that I'm now in that role, still, after eleven years of being a parent. Maybe it's because my role keeps shifting. Instead of being the one to spoon carrots into my child's mouth or wipe boogers off their face I'm now here to give advice, check their homework (when I understand it) and guide them down the path to being good human beings.
Life goes by so fast.