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I wrote this a while back and didn’t feel the need to post it until now…

The Wolvog and ChickieNob have graduated from nursery school.  It is, like most milestones, bittersweet.  None of us have dealt with it well, instead bumping along the edges of that grief, feeling our way through the dark.  There have been a lot of tears already.  I’m sure there will be more at the end of summer too.

My son and I experienced our grief in the same way–with tears and sleeplessness.  He cried on graduation day morning, continued at school, and ended up in the rocking chair with me after school, his body shaking from the sobs.

The night before, he came into our room at 12:30 pm and placed his head on Josh’s side of the bed.  When we asked him why he was there, he simply said, “I’m tired.”  I asked if he wanted me to take him back to bed and he wobbled out of the room with me, climbing back beneath his blanket and falling asleep again.

He woke up grieving time.

There was a point that afternoon, a few hours after graduation, when he asked me if I missed the time when he fit in the palm of my hand.  He held out his tiny hand to demonstrate this idea, marveling at the few inches between wrist and elbow where he once fit on my arm.  And I admitted that while I missed his babyhood, missed even the way his damn soy formula smelled when it came back up (because it always came back up), I didn’t miss feeling that scared.

When he was that tiny, everything felt so fraught.  Leaving him to sleep in his room?  What if the heart monitor didn’t go off and he died before morning?  How could I leave him with another person if they didn’t know infant CPR?  I couldn’t believe when I held his two pound body that he would ever grow into the boy he is today, dancing on stage with his sister and fellow classmates to the same songs I sang when I was a child.

I have so many different fears now.  It feels horrible to have someone grow apart from you–as if my heart muscle is literally being torn from my chest.  And it is also a wonderful pain to observe someone you love discover the world.  And they need to walk away from your sometimes in order to do that.

I held it together for most of graduation day.  There was advice I was given at the wedding to step back with Josh and observe the reception from a corner of the room, taking in the enormity of the moment because it’s too easy to race through the day and realize you remembered nothing.  I remembered Josh and I sliding back to a corner of the room, holding hands, giddily looking at our friends and family dancing to music from Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

So I did this on graduation day (sans the Hedwig soundtrack).  I ducked into a nook and watched all the kids running around outside.  It was raining, but they took the kids outside for a beach party.  They were throwing water balloons and standing under the sprinkler and shrieking and running and jumping.  And I just stood there and observed the moment.  My kids are so wonderful.  Their friends are wonderful too and the way these tiny preschoolers interact, like mini adults.  They love so deeply and they don’t even have the ability to understand that yet.

In between the party and pick-up, I gave them a half hour alone with their friends and I went to my car to call my own best friend and cry into the phone.  I didn’t even need her to speak and she didn’t try to make it better.  She just listened to me cry without words, a deep rooted grief which began with the twins and ended with future children who aren’t coming.  I may never go through this again.  I just held my hand over my face and cried.  And after a half hour of headache-inducing tears, I cleaned up and went back to their classroom to deal with my son’s half-hour goodbye.  He couldn’t leave the room, couldn’t leave his teachers.  He was so incredibly sad, stood in the hallway and cried inconsolably.

The ChickieNob turned inward, spending a large portion of the afternoon working on an art project by herself while I cleaned.  We all did our own personal stress-relievers.  The Wolvog curled up in the rocking chair with me, the ChickieNob worked on an intricate art project (a paper vampire that she named Scoobee), and I cleaned, throwing away piles of papers, old receipts, expired coupons.

We have this summer.  And after this summer, they will start kindergarten.  And I will have to learn how to untangle myself a bit more because there is no other option.  As Elizabeth Stone famously said, “Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” I made this choice to let my heart go walking apart from me; I knew what I signed up for.  I just didn’t know that it would make me so enormously sad; so enormously sad and so enormously joyful at the same time.


1 serenity { 08.23.10 at 10:54 am }

This is a perfect post for a rainy day like today.

Often I look at O, my little boy, and have only vague memories of the teeny tiny baby that fit into the crook of my arm and his quiet, lilting cries.

All I see is the running, jumping, bubble-blowing little KID.

But then he’ll stop what he’s doing, and hug me, and tell me he loves me. And in that moment I’m overwhelmed with happiness AND sadness, in equal parts.

Happiness because, in part, he CHOOSES to love me. Sadness because oh my god, it’s going by too fast.

Anyway. Long way of telling you that I understand.


2 a { 08.23.10 at 10:54 am }

I guess we have to roll with so many changes and separations that we’re more of a full-speed-ahead kind of family. Whenever we feel sad about one thing, we try to focus on the next good thing coming. That’s our coping mechanism…

3 Linda { 08.23.10 at 11:01 am }

Oh, how I envy you even days like that.

4 Angie { 08.23.10 at 11:09 am }

What an amazing post, Mel. I am crying with you, wishing I had taken more in the corner moments in my life. XO

5 Battynurse { 08.23.10 at 11:25 am }

Wow. Beautiful post.

6 Kristin { 08.23.10 at 11:55 am }

Brilliant and beautiful.

7 A.M.S. { 08.23.10 at 12:25 pm }

I’m reading this and looking at Olivia Moonpie sleeping off a bottle in her bouncy chair and missing that tiny squeeking little girl who could be covered by my hand. At the same time, I’m amazed at how big she is, how far she’s come, and excited to see where she goes. She still sleeps in the pack and play in our room at night…what if we don’t hear her spit-up in her sleep (it makes her hold her breath when it stays in her mouth and throat. Just yesterday I watched her turn blue until we got her all suctioned out.). It took us 10 days to let her nap in her crib in her room and for part of those naps, I found reasons to NEED to put away her laundry.

When you lift weights, you create small tears in the muscle fibers. It is the act of repairing those tears that makes the muscles stronger. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt like mad when you try a new exercise. It just means that with the pain come greater strength and ability.

Call me if you need me. I still won’t shy away from the howling.

8 loribeth { 08.23.10 at 12:28 pm }


9 Amy { 08.23.10 at 12:49 pm }

I had one of those moments this weekend at the beach. Watching my 16 month old play in the sand and run and frolick in the water…she’s not a little baby anymore. Made me sad and happy at the same time.

10 Sunshine { 08.23.10 at 12:53 pm }

Wow. What a nice story, but still sad. Is there a word for that happy/sad feeling besides bittersweet? There should be.

11 Lori Lavender Luz { 08.23.10 at 1:33 pm }

Your purposeful awareness of those moments at graduation, the immeasurable promise and the intense leaving-behind, makes it perfect, and I’m glad it’s seared into your mind (and now mine).

Hugs to you this week. Abiding with you during this transition.

(And I love what A.M.S. said.)

12 Jendeis { 08.23.10 at 1:38 pm }

Hugs. Love you.

13 S { 08.23.10 at 1:51 pm }

I love your way of living in the moment. Those are the best! I’m going to try the corner of the room trick at our next big event.

Babies grow up too fast. Time flies when we want it to slow and slows when we want it to pass quickly. Hugs.

14 Lucy { 08.23.10 at 3:26 pm }

Caolan is only 11 weeks old, and I already feel the time going by too quickly. This is a beautiful post for reminding us to stop and enjoy the time, stepping back to remember it, before it passes.

15 Somewhat Ordinary { 08.23.10 at 3:40 pm }

Congratulations, Mom and twins for a wonderful day. Moving onto kindergarten!

I’m not at preschool graduation yet, but I totally understand the emotions you feel. I think as a mother we all want our children to grow, but we always want them to be the age they are right now.

When you said, “They love so deeply and they don’t even have the ability to understand that yet,” I got teary eyed. I really see that exact statement in my son. His capacity to love everyone he comes in contact with makes my heart want to jump from my chest.

16 Kir { 08.23.10 at 3:43 pm }

oh wow Mel, it touches me so deeply as the boys will be moving next Monday to the Young Preschool room, only steps away from their own kindergarten days and my tears.

I never really understood that quote, until I had the boys. My heart clenches at every word, at every scratch or bruise , at every hurt they might feel and it sings with every “mommy” or giggle…with every time I realize they are running and healthy and singing and mimicking , they are mine and they are here…and I am so grateful, I can’t speak through it.

I wish you knew how much I love you for writing this, for sharing it and that you know that through it all, your “other family” ,, “us” is here in heart for you too.
HUGS and Congratulations to the twins and you.

17 Kristen { 08.23.10 at 4:20 pm }

As the school year quickly approaches, I know you’re not alone in your feelings. I wrote a post last week about the minor meltdown I had in T*arge*t when I walked through the back-to-school aisle. My oldest is going to start a pre-k program where he will eat lunch 3 days a week and my youngest is starting his 1st year of preschool. You are so right, I never realized how very sad each new phase of their lives would make me.


18 Melissa G. { 08.23.10 at 4:34 pm }

What an incredibly beautiful post. Thank you so much for sharing…

19 Quiet Dreams { 08.23.10 at 4:48 pm }

Beautiful and amazing.
This is what I imagine motherhood would be like.

20 luna { 08.23.10 at 4:50 pm }

so beautiful and tender, this one, this occasion.
bravo to you all for coping well and supporting each other.

and this, I love this:
“It feels horrible to have someone grow apart from you–as if my heart muscle is literally being torn from my chest. And it is also a wonderful pain to observe someone you love discover the world.”

21 L. { 08.23.10 at 5:21 pm }

My aging Dad always says about birthdays – “getting old is better than the alternative” which garners a laugh, and as morbid as it is, I always cling to that and the fact that I want nothing other than my kids to grow and thrive, even as those precious times are ending, it means all is well. Still, sniff sniff …

22 VA Blondie { 08.23.10 at 7:24 pm }

Beautiful post. Thanks for the reminder to be present in the moment.

23 Meghan { 08.23.10 at 7:33 pm }

You know, before experiencing how lightening fast children grow and change, I never quite believed people when they said things like this. I also didn’t know it was possible to love like this.

I’ve read this post 3 times today, it is really resonating with me. I like your idea of stepping back (which someone also told us at our wedding and it was the best advice ever). I don’t do it anymore. We’re having so many transitions over here that we’ve all been completely overwhelmed. And right now my heart is breaking at switching Sophie from her baby-sitter because I know she’s not old enough to understand why this woman she loves so much isn’t in her life anymore and at the same time I’m excited to see her transition to a new place, with more kids, and watch her learn and explore with them. I guess I never knew how a heart could feel so many different things at once.

Whew….maybe it’s time for me to blog some of this out! Anyway, thanks for making me think and realize some things. And I will be keeping all of you in my thoughts as you get ready for this next big transition next week.

24 Toni { 08.23.10 at 8:20 pm }

What an incredibly touching story. I really like that quote.

25 Anjali { 08.23.10 at 9:16 pm }

Oh, Mel. I hear your every word.

26 Genevieve { 08.23.10 at 10:13 pm }


27 Baby Smiling In Back Seat { 08.23.10 at 11:41 pm }

How fortunate your children are to have a mother who’s so in tune with their emotions, and with her own.

28 Tara { 08.24.10 at 8:41 am }

Very beautiful post & so touching! I love that you shared this.

29 Ellen K. { 08.24.10 at 9:21 am }

This is so beautiful and touching. Thanks for sharing it with us.

30 Soosee { 08.24.10 at 10:10 am }

Oh my gosh.. I just about teared up reading this. Even though this is about 5 years fast forward on MY life b/c the Tweedles are barely 18 months, I feel like I could’ve written the part about your concerns and feelings of this being the last time, and holding on to the memory and time. I often feel not many people understand that part of my reasoning b/c I “already have children – and two!” and it’s hard to explain that it doesn’t mean they’re not enough or I’m not taking away from them. But it’s a hard thing to come to terms with, that littles that fit in your palm hardly fit on your lap together now, and all that comes with that.

I’m there w/ you Mel. Hugs and rocking in a chair right next to you, in the corner, looking out at these moments.

31 theworms { 08.24.10 at 12:23 pm }

Amazing Post, you had me crying too.


32 flying monkeys { 08.24.10 at 2:35 pm }

This post returned me to those cries.
This morning I dropped my own 2 pounder off at preschool. My early bird didn’t want to wake up this morning. Instead he’d roll over and say I don’t want to leave you, I changed my mind. My heart was yelling that he’s too little! Keep him back, it’s okay if boys are a little older in school. Go ahead. Give in. Let him stay. But I brought him and he walked in and lost his fear. And only because my husband, my oldest and one of my best friends (and her children) were staring at me, I managed to choke back the lump in my throat. This, in all honesty, is most likely our last first day of preschool and even though I am so grateful to have had a first day at all, it’s bitter sweet.

33 Jenn { 08.24.10 at 2:41 pm }

What a beautiful sentimental post! I was totally tearing up! Thanks for sharing that with us!

ICLW #55

34 Deanna Zachrich { 08.24.10 at 10:11 pm }

Your post made me cry a little when it came to your new fears. I remember my daughter being little, but now she’s 11! It goes so fast. Sometimes it feels like too fast. It seems there’s always something new to worry about. I try not to go there, but it’s not always easy. I guess that’s just parenthood.

35 IF Crossroads { 08.25.10 at 2:53 pm }

This is one of the most moving posts I’ve ever read. You have me in tears.

36 Bea { 09.01.10 at 6:21 am }

And I had to comment on this one as well, just to let you know how beautiful it is.


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