Warning: Kids Grow Up. This Is Not a Drill.

I feel like it’s important to warn you so you at least have a chance to avoid me today. To hunker down in your house under your blankets or your baby’s burp-rag or whatever you can find. To lock yourself in the bathroom and to tell your littles to shush and quiet down and here, eat this whole Hershey bar so the crazy lady outside can’t hear us when I come pounding on your door. To not answer the phone when I call you. To put an out-of-office notice on your email. To runRun, is what I’m saying. Save yourselves.

See, the problem is, I took this picture approximately last week, on Abby’s first day of kindergarten.

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And then, 25 minutes later, this happened:

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Mama friends, especially all you mama friends who are new to this parenting gig, I want you to know I am trying to do the right thing here. I am trying to be a good friend to you. Which is why I’m issuing this warning:

I am going to the grocery store today, and I am going to grab every single mommy-with-littles I see, and I am going to hold on squeezy tight to her upper arms, and I am going to breathe my too-too-coffee breath in her face, and I am going to say, “HUG THEM, mama. This time goes SO FAST. LOVE THEM and LOVE THEM. They’ll be grown before you know it.” And all the white haired ladies in the checkout lines who say these things that make us want to tear our mama hair out will nod in solidarity and give me a fist bump and holler, “WORD.” And all the mommies of littles will cry because they are too exhausted for this kind of Cliffordand time does not go so fast, and seriously?!

Oh, friends. I’m sorry. I will get ahold of myself and make the grocery store a safe place again. I pinky swear and cross my heart. I will. I will just as soon as these kindergarten boys let me squeeze all the air from their bodies

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and promise to keep playing dress-up and shoving Golden Books down their pants.

Because this happened:

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And this happened:

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And, oh my word, I’m pretty sure it’s happening again right in front of me.

So next time an older lady stops you at the grocery store and tells you on the slowest, longest, most excruciating day of your life to hug your babies or that it flies by faster than you can imagine, I want you to know I’m sorry. Truly, deeply sorry. Forgive us. It’s just that, even though we mamas of young ones are right and the days go by soooooo, soooooo slowly, we older mamas are right, too, and the years are gone before we know it.

I know it’s true because I learned it from watching her.

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xoxo,
B

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P.S. A great big thank you to Abby and our next door neighbor, Zac, for allowing your mamas to recreate your First Day of Kindergarten photo. That was Love to us, babies. Love.

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UPDATE: My dad posted this pic of yours truly to Facebook with the caption “Warning: Kids grow up. This is not a drill. We are familiar with this phenomenon… and it’s okay.”

BabyBethI want to recreate this photo for my parents, but I’ve misplaced my pink bloomers again.

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
14 comments
  1. Beth, I just want to tell you, my four-year-old is sitting on my lap. He looked at the picture of you as a baby and said, “What is that?” “It’s a picture of a baby.” “A baby dressed up like an angel?”
    It does look rather angelic, now that i think about it.
    I am right in the middle of the littles stage right now (6, almost 5, 3, and one on the way) and i think the thing i love the most is the perspective they bring to everything. Thanks for the reminder to hold on tight. 🙂

  2. Whoa! I laughed until I cried. . . and would run to hug my Littles right now, but they are (finally!) angelically sleeping. I dare not squeeze them until tomorrow then .
    Thank you! Keep the awesomeness coming.

  3. I cannot even stand how she looks so, so grown up and yet is holding her hands exactly the same way in the pictures on the steps. Did she recreate that on purpose or not? I love how my kids are so much more grown up, but sometimes I get glimpses of the little ones they used to be as well as the men they are becoming.

  4. Oh my. Is it really true?!? They are really going to grow up into their own people? Somehow, it seems your oldest is now a young lady. And an exceptionally beautiful one at that.
    Just the other day we had an unseasonably warm day and my kids finally got to ride their new bikes (which have been taunting them from the garage while it stayed cols and nasty outside) they got for Christmas. I had a real moment there in my driveway, watching my bitty babies I just brought home from the hospital a few weeks ago, looking like big strong 4 1/2 yr old kids riding their bikes around.
    Are you sure this is going to continue?

  5. Boy, am I ever glad you explained that the other guy in the photo with your daughter is the next door neighbour! I was very confused for a few minutes and thought I had miscounted your kids!

    Haha! And I have littles. I will try to remember to LOVE them. Currently, my newly 8 year old is cleaning the dinner mess in the kitchen in an attempt to stay up later. More power to her, I say!

  6. I have three under 6 right now. Lately i’ve been thinking a lot about the joy in every circumstance idea. Because nearly every moment of every day I would change it if I could, but at the same time, outside of those immediate feelings, I feel so much joy in witnessing these little people just be. That is the paradox.

  7. I am sorry to tell you that it only goes faster and faster. 🙁 One of my sweet little littles will graduate from college this year. Just yesterday I yelled and yelled at her for cutting all her curls off. On Mothers Day. She was two, and I expected a LOT from her. Too much.

    Gave birth to a miracle baby last year–number seven. And all I expect from him is to be himself. I know it’s all so hard, mamas. I know sleep deprivation and desperation of all kinds. Just remind yourself that it changes, and it changes soon.

  8. I should have known better than to read this in a public place! Trying to hide these tears.

    My oldest is a sophomore in college, and will be 20 this year. 20! How did that happen?

    Just last weekend, I finally got around to finishing his graduation scrapbook, and I ended it with the photos from the slideshow – photos that show him growing from a baby to high school graduate. I included the lyrics from a song my mom used to sing to me: Where are you going my little one, little one? Where are you going, my baby my own? Turn around and you’re two, turn around and you’re four. Turn around and you’re a young man going out of the door.

    And then I read this! Sigh. Yes, gonna go home and hug my 13 year old daughter and try to hug my 16 year old son, and text my college boy. Ummm, I mean man.

    And I think I have a few pictures I need to recreate!

  9. Luckily, when your older (or even adult) kid is telling you something important, he can’t tell that you are seeing him at that adorable toddler stage that rushed by too fast, long ago.

    1. OK, I was stalwart during Beth’s post, but Judy’s reply got me right in the feels.

  10. This happened to me today. Seriously my baby just started kindergarden yesterday and tonight is her Freshman formal. I may not be able to handle this. Someone hand me a tissue.

  11. Oh my goodness you made me cry. I’ve been having a long week. A terrible, long, strict week. It’s been a bad one. A week involving constant reminders to not let our anger control us, a constant reminder to stop yelling like a banshee, a constant reminder that just because you cry louder and closer to me doesn’t mean I’m going to let you watch yet another episode of Eloise at the Plaza or let you have yet another yogurt! This week has been so incredibly hard.
    But every night when I go to bed I think about how quickly the day actually went by. And it brings to my eyes that my baby girl whom I was just breastfeeding yesterday can all tie her shoes, read a second grade level book, serve her own breakfast, help dress her brother, help Mommy bake (almost by herself). Do I need to discipline my children? Is yelling out like a banshee such a terrible thing? Heck, I wanna yell out like a banshee sometimes too when I don’t get my way. Why not? That’s it, i’m throwing away my…..*Child screaming in the distance.
    Scratch that. I always forever be the sergeant. :'( At least at the end of the day I can still hug them to pieces, read them Golden Book stories, and appreciate their facility to fall asleep in two seconds.

  12. Beth,
    Just wait for graduation. My oldest graduated last May and I’m sorry to say that I turned into “Emotional Momma”. The one that is crying, can’t speak, and keeps petting your hair and face between rib cracking hugs. Luckily, my kids are used to it and know I just need to get it out of my system, then I will be “more normal Mom” again. Of course, he leaves for the Navy soon and we will go through it all again.

    Hang in there, Momma!
    Devi

  13. What a sweet post Beth. I love it. So true.

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