Remember your child’s firsts?
First tooth, first roll over, first bite of food, first step…and the biggest first of all: the first day of school. As parents we anticipate those milestones and celebrate them with delight. But as fun as they are, we’re inevitably looking ahead to the next first. And if/when additional children come along, their firsts go by at warp speed, sometimes becoming one big blur.
So what happens when your last child does things for the final time? They are moments that fill a parent’s heart with pride and joy, but it seems more important to cherish them than to look beyond them to the next milestone. Swimmer Girl is several weeks into her senior year. The first day of school slipped up on us but we made time for a picture of her holding her first day of school, before she threw her new backpack in her trusty little SUV and headed out the driveway.
I love bittersweet. I really do.
That hasn’t always been the case, though. Learning to love bittersweet was an acquired taste with chocolate. You don’t scarf it down like milk chocolate. It should be eaten slowly so you experience all the nuances of the flavor and texture.
Bittersweet has proven to be part of the parent “package” too. Raising children seems like a never-ending job when they are tiny and rambunctious, but when they are nearly grown you suddenly realize there is precious little time left and it runs out faster than sand between your fingers. Mr. Official and I have been extraordinarily fortunate: our children’s teenage years have had a few bumps and moments that tested our patience but in retrospect, they were minor and were far outweighed by the joys of watching our children grow into young adults, with their own ideas, goals, hopes and dreams.
Now that school is in full swing, we’ve had a few “lasts” – it was the last time I had a stack of registration paperwork to fill out, and the first (my last) orientation meeting for swim team. She recently emceed a beauty pageant she participated in last year, finishing out that activity with a flourish.
Applications are off to her top choice schools, and literature pours in daily from many other colleges and universities. Football season is in full swing, so Friday nights are busy for the girl and her daddy – sometimes at the same school, but often not.
Our final fall break trip is planned. For our grand finale, we’re doing the Big Apple. It will be her first trip to NYC, but probably our last mother/daughter getaway, at least for a while – college doesn’t lend itself to slipping off for a beach week in October.
Once the swim season is underway in earnest, we’ll careen through fall into Middle Son’s graduation in mid-December and then the holidays. It will be a whirlwind year of last firsts. After we ring in 2013, we will be in the homestretch to her graduation in mid-May.
Until then, I’ll continue to savor the bittersweet flavor of final firsts and lasts.