Grade 4, Last Day

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The world is getting bigger.

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Today is the last day of school.  Jake and Eli will be fifth graders soon, and everything is getting bigger!  The size of the their appetites, the size of their feet…

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Both of them have new shoes that are almost as big as mine, and my feet are not small!

Their confidence is growing too.

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Eli has discovered a new talent.  “Mom, I’m the best camp-out chef.  I  make the best toast on a stick over the campfire, and I don’t even burn it!  It’s perfectly golden and crunchy.”

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Jake was the King of Hearts in the school play.  He worked so hard!  Memorizing his lines, learning the songs, dancing with Alice in Wonderland and loving every minute.

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In Webelos this year, they learned a ton of new skills.  Tying knots, fitness drills with the Marines, camping trips, First Aid, the Pinewood Derby.  Their troop is a truly international group of kids with the most patient, encouraging, and optimistic scout leaders on earth!  Thanks, Daddy.

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Life is fun, full of busy weekends and bike rides, and so many new experiences.  But somehow, I have to reconcile this wonderful sense of the world opening up with the feeling that my opportunities to mother them are slipping.

Up until now, my role has been to teach Jake and Eli responsibility.   To try hard, pick up their own room, learn how to cut an apple, put their dirty dishes in the sink.  Life requires these lessons, and it won’t wait for you.

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But lately, something else is happening.  Even though I’ll always be their Mommy, at this age they see that comfort can have other sources.  Who is teaching them to be kind to themselves?  Who is listening to their ideas and their feelings, and caring about their dreams?  They’ll have a lifetime to pack their own lunches and put away their own laundry, but what about my role in these precious years of teaching them how to relax?   That it really isn’t all so serious, and that a test doesn’t define their worth, and not being good at something isn’t a big deal?  When do we start teaching them to value their wants, not just their needs?

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If the world is eventually going to teach them that life is hard anyway, why do I have to do it?  There are entire decades without Legos and lunches in front of me, so does it really hurt if I take care of them a little while longer, and treat them like little boys for just a few more years?

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Maybe I don’t need to feel joyful about folding socks and rinsing crusty toothpaste out of the sink, but Jake and Eli have 10-year old burdens of their own.  They still have to find themselves and figure out who they are.  It is so easy right now to lighten that load by just being Mom.

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And to tell them, over and over again, that we’re never letting go.   Never Letting Go.

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The summer is looming and a whirlwind of grandparents, cousins, and friends awaits.  Fourth grade may be over and Jake and Eli may be growing up, but they’re not too old to stop loving Big Bear.  When I took their picture this morning, the first thing they did was run to their room to get him!

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At the bus stop today, they gathered in a big group to sign each other’s yearbooks.  The world of Friends is getting bigger.

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And I’m blessed with two sons who show me that love is getting bigger too.  Big enough to burst.

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