Way, way back in 1998, when I was hugely pregnant with Wyatt and the shopping center in our town looked vastly different (not unlike my hugely pregnant silhouette) I caught a glance at my reflection in the grocery store window.
I remember it was September, the beginning of my favorite time of year. Being the blissfully ignorant mother of one child, I was running errands with my little boy baby strapped to my side so I wouldn't lose him to the shiny lure of the packages of Hot Wheels which tempted him at every end cap. This was the way it was, me and him, him and me. We got up when we felt like it, we ate when we felt like it and we ran around town, just the two of us, two peas in a pod - never mind my swelling (and VERY round) belly that kicked and squirmed as if it had a mind of it's own.
Suddenly, upon noticing the reflection of a VERY pregnant woman holding a toddler above her VERY round belly, I realized that pregnant woman was me. ME.
I was only a few weeks away from delivering. Sure, I knew I was pregnant - how could I not? No, that wasn't just fatigue I felt during the week of our baby's first birthday, which subsequently happened during the week we closed escrow on our first house and I got my first speeding ticket since high school (it was a very big week), I was indeed pregnant. I took my pre-natal vitamins and made it to all of my appointments like a good mom-to-be. I got McRae a little doll to love on which I hoped would help prepare him for what was about to come out of my womb. He and I read stories about babies and talked about how big and "funny" my belly was. When I was exhausted, he would curl up in the spot behind my knees on the couch and pretend to nap while I fought my heavy eyelids. I never had to worry about where he was because he was always right there with me.
How did that happen? I thought as I stared at reflection of a lady who looked like she had one of those giant yoga balls you sit on in birthing class stuffed up her shirt.
Sure enough, a few weeks after my epiphany, a real baby showed up!
It may not have been that simple, but as I look back on Wyatt's birthday now, compared to the other 2, it was as simple as it was going to get for me in the childbirth department, pitocin and almost 10lb baby and all.
Anyway, that surprised feeling has returned and no, I'm not 8 months pregnant with a bowling ball - although that would be a surprise! Somehow, while I was busy doing laundry, driving kids to sports, picking up Polly Pockets, sweeping up dog hair and trying to stick to the menu of dinners hanging off the front of my refrigerator, my oldest son - that baby who used to nestle behind my knees and lay his head on my hip pretending to nap - grew up.
The other day, he brought home a packet from school. Not the kind of packet full of glossy pictures of wrapping paper and peanut butter filled penguins like the fundraising packet that Katie brought home which, by the way, drives me nuts, a GRADUATION packet. A catalog full of options for THE GRADUATE. Class rings, Class of 2015 t-shirts, caps and gowns and more graduation bling than you can shake your bank account at.
I feel like we've almost come full circle.
This man-boy-child who inducted me into the parenthood club is growing up.
Although the past few years have been filled with monumental firsts: - first job, first drivers license, first varsity letter in a sport, first "real" girlfriend, first (a'hem) fender bender, first time on a plane without parents, the fact that he'll be graduating in June doesn't seem real. We've done everything we know to help prepare him for adulthood - we've talked about colleges, careers, expectations and independence. We've tried to drive home the importance of being true to oneself and keeping all the doors open. He may not be able to cook anything more complicated than macaroni and cheese from the freezer, but golly, he will be prepared for life outside of our home.
He's done a lot in his 17 years of life so far and he's surprised me in many, many ways over the past year demonstrating his skill, drive, ability and determination to follow in the footsteps of his Dad and start a life in the Fire Service. I can hear that little boy now, running down the hall of our first home with a red plastic fire helmet cock-eyed on his head saying "BIG TRUCK WHOA," a favorite fire truck phrase that he liked to repeat and repeat and repeat in his little baby boy voice while waving his hands in the air.
When they tell you, and they will tell you, that it all goes by in the blink of an eye, believe it.