I heard the puppy scratching at the front door as the first light hit the sky. I jumped from my bed and ran down the stairs while trying to throw my pink fuzzy robe over my shoulders. I clumsily grabbed a pair of boots out of the closet without turning on the lights, and then hurriedly attached the leash to my dog’s collar and ran out into the cold morning air.
I walked my pup around my yard murmuring “go potty” again and again. As I crossed the lawn back and forth, it hit me. These shoes didn’t feel like mine. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I realized I slipped my daughter’s boots on instead.
I stood, frozen in bewilderment and wondered, “When did this happen? When did her feet get so big that we could share shoes?”
A few days later while putting the groceries away, a beautiful, blond-haired girl grabbed a box of pasta from my hands.
“Wait,” I said. “It needs to go up on the top shelf of the pantry.”
“No problem, Mom,” she replied. I watched as she stretched a gangly arm up above her head and easily slid a box of spaghetti where it belonged.
I thought to myself, “When did this happen? When did she grow so tall that she could reach all the things in our house?’”
I experienced the same sensation over and over again the next few days. I barely recognized the woman-child in the front seat of my minivan or the young girl sitting so tall at the orchestra concert. When could this sweet girl look me at me straight in the eyes when she came to give me a kiss good night?
You think you are watching your children grow up, but it doesn’t happen that way.
One day you are dressing them up for preschool, and the next they borrow a dress for a dance.
When did we stop celebrating milestones like first steps and lost teeth and instead spend time at orthodontists and middle school track meets?
How can my first-born be old enough to baby sit? When did I stop bending down to kiss her good night? How did this actually happen?
It doesn’t happen like you think, over time, across years. It occurs in an instant, a moment, a car ride, or even an argument.
You are devastated and proud when you watch how capable your child is when left to accomplish something on his own.
You are crushed when kisses and band aids no longer heal the wounds caused by harsh words or actions.
You can’t recognize the big hangers you must now use to hold their shirts in the closet.
And you notice the change when your daughter apologizes for a snarky comment, and it’s her words that put your heart back together again.
It is in those moments, you know there is no turning back.
I will forever be the mom to this beautiful creature, but our relationship is forever altered.
It’s not just her body that has grown. It is her mind, and more importantly, her heart.
When your kids grow up, it doesn’t happen how you think.