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When I was young, school graduation referred to those memorable rites of passage when you departed elementary school, high school, or university for the lofty hemispheres of some greater achievement.

Each was like a stage on a space rocket, dramatically dropping away after serving its purpose, so the vehicle could forge ahead to the outer reaches of a universe where no man has gone before.

Fast forward a few decades to the present and, in the spirit of Monty Python, we must brace ourselves now, for something completely different.

My daughter “graduates” kindergarten this Friday.  Talk about Xtreme Academic Accolades.

Yet, despite the inherent silliness of it, I felt compelled to reach in and grasp the nettle of its deeper meaning—it’s ironic truth.

And I concluded: Kindergarten graduation isn’t for the children. It’s for the parents.

It’s a gentle reminder to us that—although we live in a world gone mad with the paradoxical parental excesses of over-scheduling, hyper-competitiveness, and the notion of children as precious snowflakes needing protection from reality—kids insist on growing up.

No matter what we do, they are moving up and away from our micro-managing protective grasp.

As a parent, it feels like being on a train and watching the towns and landmarks fly by as we rush inexorably toward our destination—knowing where it leads, but uncertain of what it will look like when we get there.

I’m noticing the changes that I cannot stop—

Feeling Lizzie climb into my lap and realizing her now gangly limbs have elbows and knees that dig into my ribs like pokers. Clearing out the garage, opening boxes, and pulling out her old clothes, which now look the size of postage stamps. Noticing the absence of the sweet baby lisp and childish notions—like the day she said the Easter Bunny brought candy in a Carrot Wagon.

She’s running away from me. She’s racing towards an event that draws her—no compels her—towards the front door of our home and out into a world where I have no control over her destiny.

One day, I will only stand as tall as her breastbone and will have to remain behind and watch her back as she walks away, suitcase in hand, from the cloisters of our family life.

And suddenly, I realize why women are urged to become mothers at a younger age.

It’s because their naiveté, inexperience and—let’s face it—the shroud of downright youthful ignorance that cloaks their eyes from the truth, also protects them from the pain.

Older, significantly wiser, and humbled by experience, I can see it all passing before me like life before death, as fiercely fast as a computer download.

The tears do not even have time to reach my eyes.

I’m going to my daughter’s kindergarten graduation on Friday, because I shall remember it when she does not. Like Steve Earle’s song (http://itunes NULL.apple NULL.com/us/playlist/steve-earle/id57353757#) says, I will watch her “sparkle and shine”.

And tomorrow, when she’s grown up, I will remember it as a rite of passage of my motherhood.

Notes for this blog:

Angel La Liberte is the founder of the website Flower Power Mom—The Truth About Motherhood After 40 (http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com/) (www.flowerpowermom.com (http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com/)), a regular blog featuring commentary, real mom stories and expert advice about motherhood after 40. She gave birth to her children at 41 and 44 after conceiving naturally.

She also founded A Child After 40, a new online community to empower all women on the journey of motherhood after 40—via natural conception, IVF, ART, egg/sperm donation, surrogacy, adoption and parenting.http://www.achildafter40.com/a-child-after-40-online/.

7 Responses to My Baby Sparkles and Shines

  1. Michelle Schnaars (http://www NULL.MensesToday NULL.blogspot NULL.com) says:

    Angel,

    Once again you put voice to the feelings that many mom’s share, and the experiences we’re living. My youngest will start kindergarten next school year, and my oldest will start sixth grade in Middle school. Our middle child will attend fourth grade and will face some new challenges I’m sure.

    Time certainly flies, and I often find myself sitting watching my children and telling myself not to forget these moments. I had two such moments today. This morning before my husband left for work, he was holding our youngest who wanted him to cuddle her. He said in a playing tone, “I’ll shrink you down to size and place you in my shirt pocket, this way you can come to work with me.” “I’ll get hungry” our daughter replied. “Well, then I’ll give you crumbs throughout the day so you won’t get hungry.” came my husband’s response. “Okay!” was her enthusiastic response. You know when they’re young as long as mommy and daddy are there to take care of them, they don’t worry about anything. But we know that day comes all to quickly when they’re out on their own making decisions for themselves. We do our best, but know they will make mistakes and we can’t make them for them. Sometimes it makes my heart pang, but I also know they will “fly”.

  2. pomomama (http://pomomama NULL.com) says:

    i think you’re so right about the having children at a younger age protecting against the pain – i doubt i would be ‘doing the mathematics’ of when high school graduation and other milestones will occur next to my own milestones had i had my wee guy even 10 years earlier. mortality meant nothing then, it means so much more now

  3. Mary (http://flavorsofabruzzo NULL.com/) says:

    Oh how true. Mine isn’t in kindergarten yet, but just today as I went in to wake him from his nap I thought about how fast he’s growing, which means he’ll soon be growing away from me. For now he still wants to cuddle with mom, but how long will that last? He’ll be 3 years old in a few weeks. Sometimes I wish I could just keep him this age forever but at the same time, I can’t wait to see what he becomes.

  4. Michelle Schnaars (http://www NULL.MensesToday NULL.blogspot NULL.com) says:

    I forgot to share the second experience. It was when my youngest came up to me and said with a big smile on her face, “Once I was 1, then I was 2, then 3. Now I am 4, and soon I’ll be 5!” I can’t wait. I thought I can wait. But it is so exciting for her, and me too actually. I enjoy how our relationship changes and matures. Now I am my children’s mother, but someday I hope to also be their friend.

  5. Michelle Schnaars (http://www NULL.MensesToday NULL.blogspot NULL.com) says:

    I understand exactly what you’re saying, Mary :-).

  6. Christina says:

    It is truly bittersweet having a child at this age because life just looks so different – when I was 30 like most 30-year-olds (or frankly even at 40 I still thought death was a long ways away), I looked at life through rose-colored glasses. Now I don’t and realize how swiftly life goes….I miss that innocent girl I used to be and sometimes wish I could be so “clueless” about what lies ahead while enjoying watching my daughter grow. Even though I try to savor every second, life just whizzes by no matter what. Loved this, Angel. Thanks.

  7. Sandra says:

    My daughter graduated Kindergarten today and I searched Google just to find other moms feeling as sad as I do right now. Where did this year go? As for the husband who told his daughter he wanted to put her in his pocket, I tell my kids that everyday!

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