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Monday, September 2, 2013

The Last Door on the Left

Time is passing too quickly. It seems like it was just Christmas, and here we are at Labor Day.

I remember Sundays as a child, where it seemed like the day would never end. Sometimes that was a good feeling, and sometimes it seemed an eternity in a bad way. I don't know when the change happened, exactly, but it's been a long time since the days have seemed so long.

In fact, the last time I think I remember the days feeling endless was when my first born was an infant. He was a terrible sleeper, both at night and during the day. He was a fussy baby in those first 3-6 months, and he wanted to be held all the time. I remember not going to the bathroom or eating all day because he would cry if I put him down. And Papa thought I was nuts. I remember feeling exhausted so much of the time and yet so incredibly happy. The truth is that I liked holding him all day; I just didn't like that I couldn't get anything else accomplished.

And when he was about 15-20 months, the days also felt so long. We had decided to move to another state so that I could continue staying home with baby Curly (back then his hair was wispy at best). Papa was still working in the old state, and so for a year he commuted three hours each way. He would leave very early Monday morning and come home very late Thursday. His sweet boss, knowing he was leaving any day, agreed to let him work four long days per week so that he could have an extended weekend with us. Every weekend for an entire year. I will never forget how she blessed me in that way.

Curly was still waking up multiple times per night during that time, and his day always began at 5. No matter what time he went to bed. I was living where I knew no one but my parents, and I was not sleeping. I had little to no breaks from being a mama. And, yes, the days felt long. They were also full of joy. I remember taking crazy-slow walks with him, back and forth over the speed bumps. He'd say, "Up, down." I remember him kicking the leaves that were ankle deep on me but knee deep on him. I remember reading so many stories, and hours of him playing and narrating his play with Thomas. I thought he would never outgrow Thomas.

But now Thomas lives in a bin in our basement. Curly no longer runs down hills into my waiting arms with complete abandon. The days are now flying by.

There is much joy in these days. I love taking him to the coffee shop and having actual conversations. I love laughing with him about real things - like when I made a silly mistake yesterday. I love reading books that don't have anything to do with animals putting on their pjs (I don't think I'll ever forget the words to Moo, Baa, La, La, La, Pajama Time, or I Love Trucks).

And yet...

Yesterday was Promotion Sunday at church. The kids all moved up to their new rooms.

Tiny Dancer had some hesitation about going into the kindergarten room. I assured her the kids would be the same kids, just in a different room. She came out gushing about all of the fun she had and how the dollhouse is bigger than the one in her old room.

Little Bear ran right into the second grade room. His room is downstairs for the first time this year, so he felt this was a milestone. And it was.

But it was Curly that made my throat catch in a lump.

The downstairs section of the children's wing has second through fifth grades. At the end of the hallway is a set of double doors. Through those doors is middle school and high school. Through those doors are rooms where he no longer needs a parent to sign him in or out. Through those doors lies independence and less control for this mama. Through those doors lies the unknown. Through those doors lies a lightening-fast journey to adulthood.

Maybe I'm making too big a deal out of this moment. But it's a highly symbolic picture for me that he has reached the last door on the left. Those double doors remain closed to him at the moment, but they will be open in about 365 days.

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