you don't have to be sad your kid is growing up.

We walked out of preschool the other day and just like that, it was over. After four years of car line and class parties, I’m not a preschool mama any more.

At her final end of the year concert, I watched Evie scream the lyrics to “Are You UP…for the Challenge?” and nail all the hand motions and I laughed and marveled at my super strong girl who’s been asking me that question every morning since she was two.

I hear it over and over again, about how we should savor every moment because the time is fleeting with our kids, about how you'll blink and your baby will be in college and how alarming that it all goes by so quickly.  

I have a different take on the whole savoring situation. Because savoring every moment is a weensy bit challenging when your kids are going all Pompeii on you in the checkout line of Walmart and you can’t get the stench of baby diarrhea off your right index finger.

My kids are growing up, and I’m savoring that. It's super awesome and I'm savoring each new stage and I'm savoring leaving behind the old stages. Because big kids rock.

My youngest is becoming a big bad kindergartner, and that last day I got choked up, mostly because I love this preschool and all its fabulous teachers and can't imagine life without them yanking open my manual minivan doors every morning. I wrote half my book sitting in pickup line and you can bet I’ll drive through a few times next year, for inspiration and just to say hi.

Sure, I’ll miss aspects of our time in preschool, the funny things they said, the way they were so gloriously un-self-aware, how I could still pick them up, hold them tightly, and then actually cram them into their beds for many many hours of sleep. 

And sometimes the holding tightly lasted for days and months and I thought my arms would break off. Sometimes my daughter wanted to wear me like a skin suit in the middle of August and I thought my boobs would slide right on down my torso and out the bottom of my shirt, landing in a sweaty puddle on the pavement like a couple of Jell-o Jigglers. Sometimes the micromanagement to achieve the perfect peanut butter and jelly to meet the standards of a picky preschooler was enough to make me drop it and go through the drive-thru. Sometimes the games of Candyland felt like days.

The time did not go fast.

I did not savor every moment.

But. I savored enough, and I know you will, too. You can savor things selectively and just try to muddle through the other stuff. You’ll have enough good memories to fill a light-up Skechers shoebox that you can open when they’re older.

You don’t have to be sad your kid is growing up. You can be really excited, because learning and growing and moving on are happy, healthy things. Having big kids in elementary school is fabulous for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to:

·      I haven't seen my kids' poop in about a year. At the peds office when they ask about the poop, I look at the kids and ask, "Well? Everything good?" And they roll their eyes and say, "Mahhhm."

·      They are learning sarcasm and developing little senses of humor. It's not exactly nuanced yet, more of the "knock-knock" or armpit noise variety, but occasionally they pop out with the funniest zinger and we die laughing together. Way fun.

·      They run off and play. They run off and play. They run off and play. With their friends. For whole long groups of minutes at a time.

·      They can make their own breakfasts and get their own snacks. Some days I think they’re living on yogurt tubes, but it could be worse.

·      They fold their own laundry. They don’t like it. They make it really clear how much they hate every minute, but they’re capable of it and can handle this if they ever want to see their friends again.

At an art studio the other day, I watched toddlers play in paint while their moms chatted and thought to myself, "That feels like a million years ago." People say it goes by so fast, but it doesn't. It feels like a million, bajillion years ago. Someone asked if I missed it. Emphatically no. Don't get me wrong. I loved it. I savored the parts worth savoring. But how can I miss it when I'm listening to my big kid explain to me the entire plot of a new zombie book that's rocking his face off?

I’m too busy loving the people my kids are becoming now to miss the old stuff. The bigger they get, the more interesting they are, and as tween attitudes begin to creep into our lives, I can tell it won’t all be a sweet-smelling bunk bed of roses. But I’ll savor what I can, survive the rest, and move on to the next stage.

Onward and upward.

Written by Melanie Dale. Photo by Ashlee Gadd