I'm always tinged with wistfulness this time of year, when the final few days of school roll around and I'm forced to acknowledge the passing of time.
It's easy to ignore that in March, for example, when the days blend together in one perpetual, never-changing swath. Wake up, eat breakfast, go to school, exercise, grocery shop, nap, pick up from school, homework, eat dinner, bathe, go to bed. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
But then early June arrives, with her lilacs and fresh-cut grass and the promise of summer, and I'm woken from my daze to see my children, changed. Natalie is finishing sixth grade this week. Next year, she moves up to the junior high area at our small, Christian school - "the vault" it's called, more because it's the original 1900s part of the building, than because it houses tweens. But whatever fits. She'll go from having one teacher to having many. Her books will be stored in a locker, not a desk. She'll be an official big kid, on the cusp of high school. I still picture her like this:
A pig-tailed first grader, smiling big in a slightly too-big pink dress and tennis shoes.
And then Connor, my blonde-haired, brown-eyed boy, he'll finish third grade next week and then begin the biggest transition yet - that from private school to public. It's the best thing for him; Corey and I have prayed much over this decision and feel peace and even joy about what's ahead. But it makes the end of this school year that much more poignant. Connor had been with these same kids, everyday, for the past three years - and in a few cases, four years, because they went to preschool together. I know switching schools doesn't mean the end to friendships. His best friend, in particular, lives nearby and Isaac's whole family is dear to us, so we'll continue to invest in those relationships, like this spring break picnic from three years ago.
But it won't be the same. There's no escaping that, which makes my heart twinge.
And Teyla, whose entire life has been chronicled on this blog, will start kindergarten in the fall. She enjoyed every minute of preschool this year; she graduated last week, and bless her heart, she's asked every morning this week, "Do I have school today?" So I know she's more than ready for the leap. But it stuns me that the tiny, dark-haired baby who was born on a cold day in 2008 is now a bounding ball of creativity and spunk, her wavy, blonde hair no more retrained than her spirit.
She's going to public school, with Connor, and I'm glad our district still offers the option of half-day kindergarten, because I'm not ready to give her up yet.
And then there's Kieran, my constant shadow and companion. He's in the full throes of mama worship these days, and June reminds me to savor every minutes of his raucous joie de vivre.
I have a theory that your life stage is determined by your youngest child, so maybe that's why I'm so shocked to turn around and see my oldest firmly in middle school. For crying out loud, I'm not even done changing diapers yet. (Because potty training is the death of me. This summer, OK? I'll do it this summer.) Is it right for them to continue to grow in grace and beauty when I'm so distracted?
Mais c'est la vie, non? Sunrise, sunset and all that jazz.
I'm just glad to be along for the ride. Life groans with beauty, and change is a miracle. I wouldn't miss this for anything. Even if it does make my heart hurt. It's the best kind of ache.