Yesterday morning, I had an overdue bagel and coffee with another mother. Our daughters, both seniors now (and mine already 18, wtf?) used to be inseparable. They were pretty much attached at the hip through preschool, pre-K and kindergarten. And while they ended up at different elementary and middle schools, they stayed good weekend friends for years.
These days, they have different interests and travel in different groups at school, but our families have remained close.
Most of our conversation (the place was probably ready to kick us out after 2+ hours) was catching up on our whirlwind summers and comparing notes on the looming college application process. Every few minutes though one or the other of us would say something like: "They're seniors. Can you believe it?" Or "Where did the time go?" Or "How did we get here?"
These are the same bewildered murmurs I'm hearing from all my fellow mothers. We're all thinking the same thing. If our daughters are finishing high school, how old are we?
Wait, don't answer that.
We know our girls have wonderful adventures ahead of them (if they can get through the next six months of unrelenting stress). We're proud of their accomplishments. We're compassionate about their challenges. We (usually) excuse their attitudes. Most of all, we want to help them make good decisions and move forward positively and productively into their next oh-so-exciting chapter.
And, in the moments when we're not offering opinions on essay prompts or SATs, senior projects or safety schools, we miss them.
Well, not "them" them. Not the sometimes sullen (okay, often sullen, almost always sullen) teenagers we're currently cohabitating with.
We miss the old them.
We miss the princesses and the mermaids and the astronauts, the ballerinas and the gymnasts and the softball players and the ninjas. We miss making cupcakes and reading bedtime stories, doing art projects, watching Disney movies. We miss zoos and museums, amusement parks and bicycle rides. We miss science projects and field trips. We miss tucking them in at night and waking them with hugs and smiles (not exasperated yet utterly toothless threats).
And speaking of teeth, we miss the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, the Great Pumpkin and Santa Claus. (We even miss that ridiculous — and, let's face it, kinda creepy-looking — Elf on the Shelf.) We miss dancing and twirling and splashing and skipping. We miss holding hands and all things first: first words, first steps, first teeth, first haircuts, first grade.
We miss sharing their secrets and being the one person, the one and only person in the whole wide world, they can't wait to see after school.
I wonder sometimes if my daughter misses any of the magical-mundane moments I do. I think she probably will some day.
But, right now, she has too much to look forward to.
If you enjoyed this post, I invite you to order a copy of my book Lovin' the Alien at www.lovinthealien.com.