Every parent wants the same thing once they bring home their little bundle of joy after giving birth: we can’t wait to see what amazing things they will do. As a parent, you take to wondering a lot. Wondering about all the what if questions about this new creature in your life. And when will they smile or walk or talk? When they meet the age-appropriate milestones, it isn’t just that they reached them, it’s that we got to witness it happening. The excitement and joy of diapers turns quickly into watching them turn into actual people.
Very recently, a good friend posted a picture of a gorgeous cherry blossom tree with the caption: They fall just as quickly as they bloom. We only get a moment. Instantly, I applied that to parenthood and realized that this journey of parenthood works just like that. We watch our young toddlers grow and bloom and it’s momentous, but it’s also momentary.
As May approaches each year, I consider this journey and all the bumps and stops and speeding along as if it’s a highway. By the time my children reached the age where they were readying themselves for graduation, it’s as if we blinked and we went from diapers to dormitories. The questions we ask, as a mom or dad, are eerily similar to what we pondered when they were swaddled in our arms or as we let go the back of their bicycles or handed them the keys to the car once they earned their driver’s license. Are they ready for this step? Will they be okay?
When my first child graduated high school and went on to college that fall, I had a wonderful, wise friend tell me that I had done all I could do and that it was time to trust that I’d done my best. One of the things no one tells you is that it’s just as hard to let them go off again to their sophomore year as it is their freshman year. Kind of like how we warn new parents about the Terrible Twos but never mention the Horrific Threes.
Parenting ebbs and flows like all relationships, but by the time they go from being in diapers to living in dormitories, we have to fully exhale and tell ourselves we did the best we could have done.