As I write this, my youngest child (and only son) is outside mowing the back yard. It is a completely cliché parenting moment for me, as I look outside and wonder how the heck my kids are growing up so fast!
So much has changed over the past year. Not only is my youngest child now mowing the lawn on a semi-regular basis, but he is also only a few weeks away from starting high school. He has stopped wearing graphic T-shirts, has rebelled against books and reading, and will barely tolerate me kissing him on the forehead. He is truly a teenage boy.
As for his older sisters, all I can say is, "Whoa!" Last Thursday my middle daughter turned in her provisional driving permit for an actual license, registered to vote, and signed a petition. She will be starting college in the fall, at the same school her older sister (and my oldest child) has been attending for the past two years.
Usually at this time of year, we start thinking about shopping for new clothes and school supplies. We make sure the backpacks are in good shape, fill out piles of back-to-school paperwork, and make sure vaccinations are all up-to-date. Some of that we'll still be doing, of course. We can't send our kids off to high school or college without some new duds, after all! But the school supplies look a little different. College textbooks, external CD drives, twin XL sheet sets. What a change from crayons and colored folders.
And yet, when I look at my taller, nearly grown-up children, I see that they haven't changed so much as developed. They are still every bit the individuals they were when they were small. I hear it in their laughter, see it in their eyes when they smile or frown, and feel it every time they need their mother.
They may be growing up too fast, but they'll never outgrow being my babies.