"They are growing up so fast."
"Where does the time go?"
"Didn't that just happen yesterday?"
"They were just babies and we'll blink and they'll be graduating high school."
Play these phrases - or a similar variation - on repeat. Every day, all day long. This is the constant loop that is running in my head lately.
McKenna is in fourth grade and there are two very exciting distinctions that come with being a fourth grader in Coal City in the month of May: first, each classroom gets their own set of baby chicks which they watch and care for from eggs in an incubator to furry little hatchlings and secondly on a predetermined Friday, boys and girls retreat to separate rooms to watch The Movie. You know the one. The Movie that talks about The Changes. The Changes that take over Your Body. The Changes that take over Your Body and slowly turn you into a Hormonal Monster of a Human Being. She is understandably much more excited about one event than the other. In preparation for The Movie (I think the ag in the classroom program has adequately handled all preparatory work for the chicks), she and I have been reading a book together over the course of the last year. We've been avoiding the major stuff until recently but the two of us finally gathered enough courage to forge ahead into some serious topics about what it means to go through puberty as a girl. I honestly don't know how I said some of the words that came out of my mouth without dying a thousand deaths of embarrassment or how McKenna didn't spontaneously combust from nervous energy after hearing what's in store for her that day. But we made it through the awkwardness together, stronger, unified. I walked out of her room when I could tell she'd heard enough - giving her some time and space to process everything she had just learned - shaking my head and trying to wrap my brain around the fact that I just had a very real discussion about feminine hygiene products with my daughter. "We are both too young for this. This can't really be happening" was basically my inner monologue the rest of the night.
Elaina is obsessed with the movie Frozen. She knows every song and can probably recite almost the entire movie by now. For her birthday, Gramma and Papa came through with the present of the year (I'll take partial credit for steering them in the right direction) when they gifted their middle girl a replica pair of boots worn by the character Anna. She put on those boots and didn't take them off until two days later when I told her she couldn't not wear them to Easter dinner because they didn't match her spring dress. These boots are everything she loves - flashy, covered in sequins, fashioned after one of her heroes, and most importantly adorned with a fairly significant heel for a kid's shoe. She puts them on and struts, announcing as she walks across every hard surfaced floor that she feels just like a teenager. And with her skinny jeans and sterling silver accessories and feisty attitude I realize that without even trying I can see her as a teenager and know that in a flash I won't have to imagine it anymore because it will be upon us.
In an effort to prove to a co-worker that The General is anything but shy, I showed her some pictures from previous Relay for Life dances that would provide definite proof of his outgoing personality. Pulling these pictures from blog archives was like falling down a rabbit hole - without even realizing it this co-worker and I, who has known the girls since birth, stared at my computer watching old videos of the girls. Laughing and reminiscing while watching how little they used to be, I had to wipe tears away more than a couple of times. They were tears of laughter and happiness mostly, but I have to be honest and say some of those tears were generated from a place of sadness that those moments are gone and will never be repeated.
Yesterday was Thursday which has taken the social media world by storm as Throwback Thursday. There's little I love more than looking through old pictures, especially pictures of others. Throwback pictures of myself bring me a little bit of anxiety and crippling nostalgia for my once svelte figure and fresh face. In honor of Throwback Thursday and the prom season upon us, I posted one of my very favorite pictures of The General and me taken by the flowering tree in my childhood home's front yard on the day of my senior prom. I probably looked at that picture 50 times yesterday and it wasn't until this morning that I realized, "Holy shit. That picture was taken literally half a lifetime ago". I am twice the age I was in that picture yet it still feels like just yesterday I was standing in my front yard in that sparkling white dress, looking up at the boy that would someday be my husband and father to my children. My daughters are closer to being the age I was in that picture than I am to being that age again and that thought is sort of sobering.
All of these moments - and dozens more that happen every day - lead to the thoughts I opened this post with. Why are we always in a hurry to go, grow up, get there, move faster? Why can't I EVER just slow down long enough to enjoy a moment so that I think back on it years later I revisit it from a place of joy rather than regret? I know I'm not unique in the fact that we are so busy just trying to get through each day that we don't take the time to enjoy what's happening in the here and now. I've blogged about it probably a hundred times. But still, I find myself in the same position time after time, wishing I had just stopped to be fully present where I am when I'm there rather than thinking ahead an hour to where I'll need to be. It's one of my very worst traits as a person and probably near the top of the list of ones I would change if given the opportunity to rewire my brain.