The Back of the Bus

It's particularly cold here in Florida this morning - 36 degrees. Just a few minutes ago, bundled in my warmest coat and, cradling a hot mug of coffee, I opened the side door of our minivan and watched my girls scamper toward the school bus, their breaths puffing out before them. My 7-year-old wore her warmest coat - a big, puffy, purple number she was delighted to adorn on this rare cold day. My 10-and-a-half-year-old donned only a thin, long-sleeved shirt under her uniform T-shirt; her lightweight hoodie just slung over one arm. Too cool for enforced warmth.

So, as I sat in the warm silence of my car, I watched my little one's blonde, curly head bop down the aisle to her seat in the middle of the bus. And then I saw my first-born, so tall and lanky, make her way to the very back row. This is where the big girls sit - the older girls. I watched as a 4th grader vacated a back row seat; my girl stood watch and then slipped into place next to her fellow fifth-grade friends. She had rank.

The pony-tailed heads of the girls in the back rows bent low and close toward one another. This is coveted time - a sacred 20 minute drive to talk and laugh and share. I know how much my daughter craves and cherishes social interaction right now. Her friends are top priority.

A lump formed in my throat and my stomach tightened a bit as I watched and realized there is no going back. A decade made up of long, often-trying days has flown by in the blink of an eye. The cliché smacked me in the face - they grow up so fast. I searched to see my younger one's head among the rows - she still snuggles up on my lap, and craves mama time the most. I know how truly short-lived this is now, and I'm grateful for her middle-of-the-bus position.

I'm home now, and my nest will be empty and quiet for the next seven hours. This is not new... but on this unusually cold Friday, it feels different somehow. I feel the space, the silence, the stillness a little deeper. It's bittersweet. This alone time I used to crave with all my being has become, well, more commonplace. And I wonder, will I blink again and find myself yearning for the closeness, the noise, the chaos of these fleeting days?

In no time, I'll be back at the bus stop, collecting my girls, who will be hungry and happy to start the weekend. Tonight, we'll make and eat homemade pizzas together. We'll snuggle under blankets by the fire and finish the last couple chapters of Harry Potter. I can hardly wait!

Happy weekending, friends!

xoxo - Liz


Tonya said...

Oh goodness. This is so, so sweet and lovely. <3

Rachel G said...

My daughter recently celebrated her 8th birthday and we were reminiscing about the past 8 years and imagining where we all might be in another 8 - when my son will be 20!! A bittersweet thought, indeed.