Third Grade is When it All Changes

My boy is growing up. A friend who was once a third grade teacher warned me it would be coming. It is the collision of worlds, where they still seem so tiny, but want so badly to be big. She was right.

In the blink of an eye, my first-born is all of a sudden stronger and wiser than the round cheeked, bright-eyed kindergartener who barely left my side. He still clinches to the soft blanket that adorned his crib every night to sleep, but continually reassures me he no longer needs to snuggle. It’s heartwarming and heartbreaking all in the same moment. He is growing into his own, and it might be the hardest part of motherhood for me thus far. Realizing I am needed in a different way, in different moments caught me off guard, despite the cautionary advice I received.

In the depths of toddler tantrums and little boyhood, it was hard to imagine him not needing me for every task, although the thought was one I welcomed. It snuck up on me, and before I knew it, I was grasping desperately to that perfect in-between age. The time where they still love their mommas with all their hearts, but can fill their own water glass and rationally talk through sibling squabbles. I didn’t realize it would be so fleeting, and I’m not quite ready to leave it behind.

The chubby little fingers that used to once reach out for mine before he crossed the street now resemble ones more so of a teenager than a toddler. They sit firmly in the pockets of his sweatpants; the only clothing an 8-year-old will wear as he saunters across the street at his own pace. Time spent sweetly asking to build Legos or visit the aquarium is now reserved for biking with friends and coveting the latest video game. I sometimes glance over to see eye-rolls and other glimpses of the adolescent years that are not so far ahead. Hugs from mom in public are now a little embarrassing when, just a few short years ago, he held tightly on to my arm as we entered school on the first day.

Each time I realize a “last” has passed by without my noticing, I silently ask time to stop, for just a moment, so I can hold on a little longer. The years have been a blur, raising babies, trying to figure out life. Motherhood is a cruel joke as you wish for time to speed up, until you reach the end of an era, and you realize those were the sweetest moments in life.

So as I mourn a time gone-by, I need to also relish in what he is becoming. I must because, otherwise, I’ll miss out on watching him transform in to someone independent from his parents. If I do not grow with him, I’ll be left behind. And no way, no how am I letting that happen!

He is now someone who could bury himself in a mountain of books and get lost in the pages. He asks complex questions about people and life, and for now, still looks to me for the answers. He shows tender patience to his younger brothers, even when they don’t deserve it. He would rather visit the museum than the park and requests money for his birthday instead of dump trucks and train tracks.

I’ll always miss the grinning little boy who never left the house without a race car in his pocket, but I’m trying my best to know that each stage he enters brings a new joy. I might be gaining something just as sweet, but unfortunately, I won’t realize it, until it has passed me by.

He’s growing up. It’s a magical, delightful thing to witness. We have so many adventures ahead of us, and I’m curious to see where it takes us.

Third grade. Boy, what a doozie it has been.

Kristin is a Lee’s Summit suburb transplant, after living in the Brookside and Plaza areas for over eight years. Raising three young boys with her husband, Jake, has helped her to embrace the messy, wild side of life where love is expressed in bear hugs and body slams. Professionally, she can be found teaching classes as an adjunct professor in the areas of Business, Marketing and PR. She is able to provide her students with applicable, real-life knowledge as she draws from several years working in the corporate sector. “Free time” (ha!, what's that again?) is spent on an occasional date night to favorite local restaurants, reading blogs on everything from home design to politics, riding her sweet beach cruiser bike and thinking of ways to convince her husband to do yet another home improvement project.