Don’t blink, they grow up way too fast." I would hear that from countless people: my family, my friends, even strangers in the supermarket. I would always nod and think to myself, "What are they talking about? I can’t wait to sleep again for eight hours and actually sit down to eat a meal." Fast forward three years and here I am getting ready to drop my twin boys off at their preschool for the first day. I remembered the loving glances from strangers and the look in the older mothers’ eyes of "how I wish my child was young again" and it really hit me.
They were right. I blinked and then I was watching my sons walk into school into the hands of someone else besides me.
My sons looked at me rather bewildered upon leaving the car for their first day, but they were calm. They gave me a kiss, left the car, took the hands of their teacher and walked into the school. I watched them go in but had to move on quickly because of the minivan brigade behind me. As I pulled out of the parking lot a flood of tears hit my eyes and thoughts of baby blankets, bouncy seats, onesies and first coos encompassed my heart.
Where did that time go?
In a loss of what to do with myself for a whole two hours I weirdly enough found myself on the path to the local grocery store. I figured it may just be easier to pick up some things without pulling children in and out and maneuvering the huge cart that seats two in a race car and barely fits down the aisle. But when I saw that blue race car cart it sent me into another bout of tears. Feeling lost, I wandered down the aisles aimlessly, like a lost dog far from home.
Right there in the frozen food section, I had an epiphany: These bundles of joy I brought into the world have profoundly and deeply made me feel complete. Every day, every millisecond, with them is a gift. I have always felt that way, but how much more I felt it today when I handed them off for someone else to teach and guide them.
I left the store with nothing that I intended to get but in control of myself. After all, it was only two hours three days a week. I went into fast forward mode and started thinking of how I would handle their getting a driver’s license, high school graduation and on and on. I needed to be untangled from that downward spiral, so I phoned my mom on my way back to pick up my boys. She is recently an empty nester and had some sympathy for me, but not too much. She laughed her infectious laugh and it brought me back to the days when I would come running off the bus from first grade to see her standing at the door, ready with an enormous hug.
She said, "It’s OK, really. This is a small taste of what lies ahead. Don’t get too comfortable as things change all the time." I smiled, said goodbye and pulled into the parking lot to the school door. There waiting for me were my two angels. They were so excited as they shouted "Mommy!" Oh, that warmness around my heart. It was back. It is amazing how quickly I have arrived at this very moment, thankful for the ups and downs of parenthood.
After all, every ending is a new beginning.
Lisa Stukel is a freelance writer living in Brookfield with her husband and twins, Dante and Ezra.