A mom’s first graduation
Published May 25, 2005
How do those women do it?
You know, the ones who have eight or nine kids. How do they do it?
I’m not referring to all the labor, laundry and potty training, although I don’t know how they do all that, either. I’m talking about kindergarten graduations. I just survived my oldest daughter’s, and I’ve got five years to get psyched up for the next one.
There’s no way I could handle any more after that.
Not that it wasn’t a nice ceremony. The Travis Elementary kindergarteners marched in to “Pomp and Circumstance” wearing white graduation caps and orange tassels. They sang a song about rainbows. Julia, up on the back row of the risers, caught my eye and gave me a quick, nervous wave. She was so cute. They were all cute.
And I wanted to collapse on the floor and have someone carry me out. What happened to my baby girl? What happened to the wisps of baby hair that used to cover her head? What happened to being able to pick her up without throwing my back out?
I looked at some of the other moms sitting around me. Just six or so years ago, we were in hospitals somewhere, enjoying a delightful painkiller high and in a state of utter shock over how much we loved these babies that seemed so new and so familiar at the same time.
Many of us had walked around for years in that identity crisis that sets in at about 18 in which we spend a lot of time wondering why we’re here. Staring into our newborns’ faces, with their buttery-soft skin and rosebud mouths, the answer could not have been more clear. We’re here to be their moms.
And now our children are turning their little orange tassels. Next is first grade, then second, and it doesn’t stop until 12th grade. Then you go drop them off on a college campus somewhere. Of course I want my child to grow and learn and be successful. But part of me will always want my baby back.
The nice thing is that I do have an actual baby in the house right now.
But Jenna will be starting kindergarten in 2009. It’s no wonder we women start hitting the Oil of Olay in our thirties. Watching our kids grow up is incredibly rewarding, but it can also take its toll on us.
For Julia’s graduation present, we got her a Cabbage Patch Kid. Yes, those chubby-cheeked dolls that moms were willing to kill for in the early ’80s. She had been wanting one for a while, and we surprised her with it when we got home from the ceremony.
We could have given her a more grown-up gift like jewelry or something. But the Cabbage Patch Kid was our way of saying, “You’re still a little girl. One day we’ll drop you off on a college campus somewhere, and you’ll go out in the world and do great things. But not just yet. We need you to need us a little bit longer.”
Julia has big plans for her future. She wants to travel the world and explore sunken shipwrecks. She wants to personally save every kind of endangered animal. I believe that she, along with other kids her age, will have a profound impact on the world when she’s grown up.
And I think that’s great. I just want her to take her time getting there.
Deana Nall’s column appears every Wednesday. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.