“I can’t wait till I have my own room,” Ruby said wistfully the other day.
Her stepbrother, Elliot, is a senior this year and will be going to college next year. Since she was maybe 8, she has been counting down to this moment, and it’s almost here.
“What will you do?” I asked.
Every week it changes. She has elaborate but ever-evolving plans of loft beds, color schemes, beanbag chairs and desks. She sends me Amazon links constantly.
“Well,” she said, “I will be organized. My room is only messy right now because of Georgia. Once I don’t have to share with her, I will be super-tidy. I’ll arrange my clothes by color, like in a rainbow. And she won’t climb on my bed and get in my face when I’m trying to FaceTime my friends. And the best part is that I won’t have so much junk and toys around, so Milo can just sleep on my bed and not in his crate.”
And I started bawling. It was the damndest thing. One minute I was indulging her room décor fantasies and the next, I was crying because I had suddenly had an elaborate fantasy of my own.
“Mom?” she said, alarmed. “Mom? Why are you crying? What’s wrong?”
I could barely choke out my answer: “I just had this vision of like six years in the future, boo. And you’ve gone off to college, and Milo is so sad without you because he’s been sleeping with you for five years, and so it’s the first night you’re gone, and he gets in your bed and is missing you, and then I get in with him, and he and I are in mourning together, like curled up in your bed, just being depressed together because you’ve left us.”
She cocked her head at me.
“I love you,” she said, “but you’re crazy.”
“I’m not crazy!” I said. “I’m a mom! Elliot is already leaving, and that’s going to be sad, and then you’re going to leave before I even know it! You’re in seventh grade now, and it feels like 10 minutes ago you were starting kindergarten!”
“It feels forever ago I was starting kindergarten!”
“It does not! It was yesterday basically. You were just born!”
“I AM ALMOST 13!”
Thirteen years seems like a lifetime to her because it is her lifetime. Thirteen years feels like nothing to me because I can still remember the smell of her neck folds when she would fall asleep on my shoulder after nursing. How is she so grown? How can I make it slow down?
“I guess it’s just going so fast for me,” I said. “It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long since you were in second grade, and in that same amount of time, you’ll be a senior. And then you’ll be gone.” I started crying again. “I guess … I’m just not ready to be done raising you.”
“Now you’re being even more ridiculous,” she said. “You’re not going to be done raising me when I go off to college. You’re not ever going to be done raising me.”
Aaand then I was crying again.
Everyone told me how fast it goes, even if I didn’t understand.
Why did no one tell me how much I would cry over the silliest things?
New moms, I know you’re sick of hearing this, but: Man, it goes so damn fast. And also: Buy stock in Kleenex … or at least buy them in bulk.