This weekend Libby-11 and I are FINALLY going "away" on our Passport to Purity weekend. Poor child. We've been talking about it for over a year - but, what with the move, our austerity budget, Africa, my job...let's just say it got postponed a few times, and when I suggested to Libby that maybe September would be a better time to go, she started crying.
Time is a crazy thing. It is never convenient. Has it really been three years since Dennis took Neal (now 14)? Oh, my.
I was talking recently to a mother whose youngest daughter is getting married soon, and she said, "Once they reach middle school, they're gone." Not GONE-gone, of course. I think it just feels that way. Everything is suddenly at warp-speed. I am already looking at Allie-15 and Neal (who were 11 when they went on their weekends and I thought they were so grown up), and rather than just looking ahead to the school year, I am somehow seeing college, marriage, children. HOW ON EARTH can that be happening while I still have so much parenting to do? But somehow I am as excited about that as I was when they got their first teeth.
So I must seize this opportunity to make a memory with Libby, my middle child. The Ever Patient One who asks so little, and whose growing up has all but taken me by surprise. I wanted to take her to a lake and have a peaceful time in a cabin, but I guess after a year of living in Small Town she has had her fill of "country." So we got a good deal on a hotel near a mall (near our old stomping grounds in Big Suburb). Us country bumpkins will spend the weekend doing "city stuff" while talking about Important Growing Up issues. I can't wait.
Meanwhile, speaking of growing up, while I was outside yesterday, I heard a blood-curdling scream. "MOM!" It was Ruthie-5, yelling out the back door in a way that she usually does when she can't find me and thinks I have left her ("Have I EVER left you alone, Ruthie? No, I will NEVER, EVER leave you!"). Soon she came running around to the front of house where I was, crying hysterically.
I didn't see any blood. "Hey, Ruthie, what's the matter?" I always try to sound so calm. Maybe she broke a bone, that's why there's no blood?
She ran to me as fast as her little legs could carry her. "MOOOOOM!"
"What, Baby, what is it?"
"MOM! I MISS MY HIGH CHAIR!"
Your high chair?
Ruthie and Annie-8 had been playing "baby." Earlier they had asked if they could use the stroller, which - now that our youngest is, um, FIVE - I keep around only for rare trips to amusement parks, mostly to carry all our junk, and with the express instruction that I will push no one who weighs more than 50 lbs (why do all kids think Mom should push, carry, or pull them, even when they are bigger than you?).
Anyway, I guess now the girls wanted to put each other in the high chair, and they couldn't find it.
The hysteria continued to escalate. "WHERE IS MY HIGH CHAIR? I MISS MY HIGH CHAIR!" Tears were streaming down her face and she was gasping for air.
I knew it had gotten hauled off in a pile of junk after the garage sale, but I couldn't tell her that. Nobody would buy it, and not just because it had served four other kids faithfully and was being held together with strapping tape. Somehow in our move, we had lost the tray. Not that she could fit her long, gangly legs under the tray anyway.
I could see that no amount of explaining (such as, "You haven't sat in that ratty thing for two years!") was going to help. We "searched" the garage and the shed. "I'm sorry, Honey. It's not here."
Finally, I had to go for the big guns: "Why don't we make a snow cone and we'll sit and talk about all our memories in the high chair. What flavor shall we make?"
The sobbing began to subside as we ate our black cherry snow cones and talked about baby times and looked at pictures of the beloved high chair, like this one.I found myself getting choked up. Libby came by and whispered to me, "Mom, it's just a high chair."
Sigh. She's right, of course. But, like our upcoming weekend, that high chair represents a fleeting moment in time. One that serves a purpose, marks the beginning of something new, and the end of something precious. It deserves to be treasured and remembered.