This screen is empty, but my head is not. It is filled with thoughts of growth and change and transition. And somewhere in the mumbo jumbo of to do lists, laundry, cooking, packing, and anxiety attacks, I am trying to make sense of it all. Tomorrow is the last day of elementary school for my now very grown up 11 year old daughter. Tomorrow is the last day of kindergarten for my sweet little man who just yesterday was my baby.

To say this year with them has been a joy would be an understatement. Being able to watch them walk up the hill into the same school door every morning (her always panicking that she was going to be late [she never was] and him searching for his boys — and lately, his girls) has made me feel like the luckiest mother in the world. They have been Book Buddies and had the comforting feeling of knowing that someone they love is by their side (even if down the hallway) all day long. They’ve had moments of growth and sadness and fear — him telling her he didn’t think she should keep hugging him at school in front of his boys. Her saying after Newtown that if that ever happened at her school the first thing she would do is run out of her classroom and go make sure her brother was safe.

My little girl, who sings now more than ever, is no longer in the days of dance recitals and soccer games. This morning, I dropped off clothes that she forgot for a kickball tournament and I was struck by her suddenly more mature beauty as she turned the corner, smiled, and flipped her long hair a bit as she saw me. She has braces. We talk openly and honestly about friends and boys and all of the obvious things that 11 year olds wonder about. Last night she cried when talking about all of the injustice in the world. She has started to argue politics at the dinner table. And on social media. (Oy.) She feels. Intensely.

My girl makes me a better person.

My little boy, who runs, climbs like a monkey, and builds Lego sets like a teenager, is still in the days of soccer and weekly birthday parties. Last night he ended up sleeping with me and the big metal “throw up bowl” after puking all over the car earlier in the day. His limbs entangled with mine all night and his head was firmly planted on my chest — creating a dull pain that only a mother knows. I hardly slept a wink between the random punches and kicks and turns. But this morning he said, “Thank you for letting me sleep with you, Mommy. My tummy really hurt.” He likes to point out that he and I both like to rub our feet together in circles while getting settled into bed at night.

My boy completes me.

So I sob a little. I rejoice in them. I thank the powers that be that they light up my life every day. I read somewhere that having a child is like putting a nail in your heart. Initially, it fills up a void you never knew existed. But slowly, you know that nail is being withdrawn and that you will be left with the hole that they filled for so many years. So many sleepless nights. So many birthday parties. So many throw up bowls and antibiotics and fevers. So much laughter. And so many tears.

The joy of motherhood almost always feels one whisker away from pain. And today, I guess I feel the pain a little as that nail comes out just a wee bit more. I already long for it to be pushed back in and relive every little moment of them walking up the hill together again.

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