Rainy days in May

Next week, Nate graduates from the sixth grade, officially beginning his junior high career.

The last time I attended a graduation–aside from the preschool and kindergarten variety–he was two years old. We were at my sister’s commencement at Bates College in Maine, during every bit as rainy a May as this one has been. Unable to sit through the lengthy ceremony, Nate wandered the commons through most of it, drenching the cuffs of his khaki trousers as he slogged through the wet grass and soaking his diapered bottom whenever he lost his footing in a gopher hole or on a sprinkler head. He eventually found an abandoned grounds maintenance golf cart perfect for playing truck driver while I found a bench to wait him out. Eight months pregnant with Calvin at the time, it had seemed like a very long afternoon.

A very long afternoon that feels like yesterday. How does that happen? How has a decade passed? Surely I’m the same person I was that day, checking my watch, missing the ceremony. I have the same thoughts, same hopes, same plans. He’s the same little boy, with the same wide smile, the same twinkling eyes. The same ready laughter. But the rain coat I bought him that weekend? The yellow and navy one I rushed into L.L. Bean to buy on the drive in? It’s gone through two more of my boys, weathered a stint in storage, and now fits my nephew. (Quality stuff, L.L. Bean.) The Matchbox cars stashed into my purse in anticipation of a squirmy toddler on that chilly day? Long outgrown. They’re still under his bed though, filling a shoe box with a layer of dust on its lid.

He won’t let me give them away. Ditto for his favorite army men and best stuffed animals. But he wants a new look for his room, something grown-up, he says, something cool. (He’s just not sure what.) I picked up some paint samples and brought home some catalogues, but now he’s dragging his feet, his first and second grade soccer trophies still maintaining their prominent space on his dresser, his ragged Pokemon poster still tacked on his wall beside his Sports Illustrated soccer player profiles and WWII maps, despite his abandoning that particular obsession years ago.

I’d say he’s stuck between childhood and adolescence, but he’s not. He’s bridging both, and it’s beautiful. He won’t be able to do it for long, but then again, none of us can fill the same space for any length of time, can we? All we have–all we live for–is a little while…a little while that strings into a little while more, and then a little while more, until all those little moments stack up, front to back, and before you know it, before your boy is even grown, that first moment almost as a way of turning up again, face up in the deck.

And you find yourself spending a rainy day in May celebrating milestones while thinking, haven’t I been here before? With this same boy who is no longer the same boy? And you see how tall he’s grown, and how mature he acts (mostly) and how commanding his presence, and you can’t help but think: where will we be next?

Written for the Red Dress Club RemembeRED memoir prompt, ‘graduation’.

37 thoughts on “Rainy days in May

  1. This is really lovely, Amy. I especially like this line: “none of us can fill the same space for any length of time, can we?”

    I was thinking the same thing about my oldest, although with a slightly different bridge (babyhood to boyhood). He leapt off the couch to hug me just now and he was all elbows and angles and I wondered to myself, “When did you stop being a baby?”

    Ahh, that inevitable march of time and our conflicting desires to speed up the days and slow down the years.

    • Oh, I know that moment you speak of, that space between baby and boy. Suddenly the chubby cheeks and legs are gone, and this lanky, scabbed-knee thing is bounding around instead. Amazing. And heartbreaking. And wonderful.

  2. Oh, yes … this makes me cry. How time can hold so much, and yet fly? How I still feel like the ages-ago me, but I know I can’t be anymore. It is all so fraught, and amazing, and sad at the same time. xox

    • Yes. I’m me, and yet I’m not. My kids are my kids…themselves from the moment they were born, and yet…they change every single day. Crazy.

  3. The paragraph about how time stacks up blew me away, Amy. I mean, of course the whole thing is gorgeous…that just really struck me and it gave words to something I’ve long had a hard time articulating. I don’t know how it goes so fast but I know I’m glad to come here and have this mother-heart resonation.

    Lovely post.

  4. This is what I meant. Just saying 🙂

    “I’d say he’s stuck between childhood and adolescence, but he’s not. He’s bridging both, and it’s beautiful. He won’t be able to do it for long, but then again, none of us can fill the same space for any length of time, can we? All we have–all we live for–is a little while…a little while that strings into a little while more, and then a little while more, until all those little moments stack up, front to back, and before you know it, before your boy is even grown, that first moment almost as a way of turning up again, face up in the deck.”

    • Thank you, friend. It’s a cliche for a reason, the way our children’s childhoods both crawl and fly by, but it still never ceases to surprise me. The concept of time, and our human slavery to it, remains one of the most fascinating of paradoxes to me.

      (PS: I played with that wordy paragraph for far too long, and still don’t think I have it right, but you’ve reminded me that the point here is connection and resonance, and hopefully I achieved that.)

  5. Oh sob, sniffle. Yes. It’s such an emotional time, isn’t it?

    I adore this line: “He’s bridging both”- that’s exactly what we all do during change. You worded it perfectly.

  6. This is so beautiful. And I know it has been said, but I really loved the line about bridging both childhood and adolescence. That is such a special time.

    • Thank you! I’m behind reading this week’s entries, so I’m excited to see what everyone else came up with! Glad you stopped by today.

  7. This is so lovely, Amy. We can’t inhabit the same space for too long…yeah. Yeah, that. And all of the changes. How tall they are, how different, how grown, and yet… and yet we find ourselves circling back to same-different moments in a long history of parenting.

    I don’t think I want them to grow up, and then I do. I don’t think I’m ready for change, and then it comes and I am happy. I think I’ve learned to stop thinking about it so much and just try to do the best I can in the moment, on the day. While it never quite feels like my best, I know no matter what that it’ll bring me right to where you are: a sixth grade graduation in just a couple of years. And whoa! That’s big. An end and a beginning.

    • Everything is an end and an beginning, isn’t it? And when they’re small, it’s so hard to not wish they were older, more capable, less work. And then they are.

  8. Yes, yes. I know exactly what you mean. I feel sort of that way this year as my daughter finishes elementary school. It’s a rite of passage, and her foot hovering on both sides is as beautiful as you described Nate’s being.

    • It will be sad to see elementary school behind him; he’s still a kid! But he’s ready, I know he is. Glad you stopped by today!

  9. I love this. I really enjoyed the part where you wrote about bridging the gap between childhood and adolescence and how we don’t get a lot of time for it.

    Really beautiful.

  10. Ah yes, the bridging. I love it. My son turns 6 this week, and he’s both near enough to little-kidness that he happily can play baby games with his friends’ baby siblings. Yet he is drawn to the games and talk of older kids. It is so sweet, watching them work Life’s shifts like this.
    Great job.
    Came from TRDC.

    • My six-year-old is the youngest, so he never seems to appreciate his age…only wants to be older, bigger, stronger, faster like his brothers. I wish he could enjoy it! Thanks for stopping by today!

  11. Wow, I agree with the others who mentioned that ONE paragraph in particular. Your word choices and inner thoughts inside the paragraph speak volumes to parents. I also loved the images of his room. A fantastic post, thanks for sharing. I am loving reading these responses to the prompt today!

  12. It’s so hard when they begin to grow up…my daughter is 13 and next year she will be entering the 8th grade. That’s my last year of having her, really having her, be all mine. Once she goes to high school, it’s all over! Her friends and her studies will take over and I’ll just be another annoying mom!

    • Yes, that’s an important milestone, and for a while, teens do pull away. But then they come back and we get to see what great adults they are (or so I hear)!

  13. Tears are welling in my eyes as I finish. I love this :
    All we have–all we live for–is a little while…a little while that strings into a little while more, and then a little while more, until all those little moments stack up, front to back, and before you know it, before your boy is even grown, that first moment almost as a way of turning up again, face up in the deck.
    Thanks for another cry today! (I mean that in a good way!)

  14. Just beautiful, Amy. Just beautiful.

    My middle is straddling that earlier line, starting kindergarten in the fall and officially leaving babyhood and toddlerhood and preschoolerhood behind.

    Bridges, indeed. And I don’t think I am the same as I was when my eldest was small. I hope I’ve evolved, learned, grown, mellowed..

    Thanks for posting this.

    • My youngest crossed that bridge earlier this year. It’s another biggie! I’ve changed plenty since my eldest was small too, but I guess I stubbornly think that at my core, I’m the same as I was in college, in my twenties. I feel like I am, anyway!

  15. Really great job! I love the connection from past to present…seamless! So much changes but just as much seems to say the same. The passage of time is bittersweet really…especially when it involves children. Beautifully written and poignant. I’m stopping by from TRDC!

  16. Every once in a while I think I can do it one more time. And then my common sense kicks in. Phew.

    Such a beautiful post. I was thinking about this in relation to my own children and they are all “bridging a gap” of one sort or another. I wonder if we all are bridging gaps – me between young adult and middle age. Oh heck, who am I kidding, I think I might just be fully middle-aged.

    • I know: sometimes I think about doing it again, but then I realize it would just be to turn back time, not for the right reasons. (Plus, I’m SO over diapers and nap times and sippy cups!)

      Here’s to middle age!

  17. “…that first moment almost has a way of turning up again, face up in the deck” – I really like this imagery. My daughter’s graduation from anything seems so far away, but time goes faster every year, and I know it’ll be here any day now. Which makes me so sad and reminds me yet again to enjoy this chaotic stressful wonderful baby time while it lasts.

  18. I am at the matchbox cars in my purse stage. Now I know how great it will be later, and how fast it will go. Thank you for sharing.

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