My baby is leaving me.
OK, hes going to kindergarten, but it feels like hes leaving, growing up way too fast. Im not sure how to handle it.
There will be tears. Mostly mine. I cried when I dropped my oldest son off for kindergarten three years ago. My anxiety about that milestone was tempered by the fact that I had another son at home until this fall.
Because Wake County staggers the entry of its kindergarteners, I get an extra week with my youngest before the school year officially starts.
Come Tuesday, though, summer vacation will be replaced with an empty, quiet house. Both of my kids will finally be in school full time, and Ill be left trying to figure out where the time went.
The five years that separate birth and kindergarten sure dont last very long.
Im going to miss Jackson in the morning asking for a snack. Im going to miss going to the pool and going bowling. Im going to miss having a little buddy to run errands with me. Im even going to miss SpongeBobs hideously annoying laugh in the background while I try to work.
It doesnt last long
When you become a parent, you have no idea how quickly the milestones come and go. When my oldest son, James, was born in 2005, a friend told me, Enjoy this time. It doesnt last long.
At the time, I was sure my friend was wrong. Those first three months of motherhood lasted forever. The 3 a.m. feedings, dirty diapers and exhaustion were a cycle that seemed to never end.
I was worn out by three years of parenthood and a full-time job when Jackson was born in 2008. To cope, I lived on pots of coffee and traded sleep about three hours a night for sanity. I dont know how I survived.
But as hard and blurry as they seemed, those days were great some of the best. I didnt want them to end.
But they did.
The kids have gotten older and easier along the way. Theyre self-sufficient, help out around the house and sleep through the night. Every mothers dream.
And as sad as I am that they are growing up, I look forward to the milestones left to come the braces, first dates, college applications and drivers licenses. Im also secretly looking forward to having some time to do things like run errands and work without having to stop what Im doing because someone needs a snack. And for that, I feel guilty.
I have always looked at parenthood as an 18-year phase. Thats how much time I figured Id get with my boys before they started their own lives. One day soon, these kids wont be interested in sitting in my lap, hugging me or hanging out with their boring ol mom. I remind myself of that each time they want my attention and Im too busy or tired to give it.
I tell my kids I love them every day. I try to remember the smell of their hair when I hug them. I get choked up when they make me proud. I help them with their pajamas, play hide-and-seek, tuck them in at night and hold their hands whenever I get the chance.
I get excited over the fleeting phases of the Tooth Fairy, trick-or-treating and Easter egg hunts, and I hope Jackson wont give up these things when his big brother does.
I take thousands of pictures of these kids and these moments, trying not to forget a thing.
These first eight years boil down to this weekend, the last time Ill have my baby home before hes off to start his life. Well do the usual have snacks, go to the pool, go bowling and watch SpongeBob.
And Ill enjoy the time, knowing that the next eight years will go by even faster than the first.
Tuesday will be hard. And Ill be sad. But when this house starts to feel too empty and quiet, I might just call on SpongeBob to keep me company.
Jessaca Giglio is the Shop Talk editor and retail columnist at the News & Observer.
Giglio: 919-829-4649, firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @shoptalk_nando.