How Are We Here Already?

Yesterday was a day I had been dreading. I knew it would come. Eventually. I just didn’t expect it would come so soon.

Yesterday, I found myself standing with tears streaming down my face thinking –

How are we here already?

Seven years ago, it was time to send my oldest to preschool and I remember feeling like I wasn’t ready to let her go – even for just a few hours a week. It felt like only moments ago she was a newborn with her folds of soft, chubby skin resting gently in my arms while her little hand wrapped tightly around my finger.

Even though I was feeling nervous and unsure – she wanted to go. She was excited to go. She was growing up. We drove to the school and watched her walk confidently down the sidewalk to the entrance.

And as the tears streamed down my face, I found myself thinking –

How are we here already?

The next year, my second followed in my oldest child’s footsteps and headed to school for the first time. From that point on – it just kept happening. One by one, they all were off to preschool. I thought it would get easier –

but I was wrong. It didn’t.

As the years passed and they each made their inaugural walk down the sidewalk to the preschool entrance, the tears would stream down my face and I would find myself thinking over and over again –

How are we here already?

And before I knew it, elementary school was upon us. As the big yellow bus rounded the corner and headed to our stop, I wanted to jump out and yell, “Wait! She’s still so little! See how little she is!” It seemed like her little body would get lost inside that big yellow bus filled with all of those tiny heads peeking out the windows and over the seats. How would she make it on her own? But she was ready and excited to go. She was growing up.

And as the tears streamed down my face, I found myself once again thinking –

How are we here already?

And in a blink of an eye, my oldest was moving on past elementary school. It was the last day of school and all of the parents were standing in the hallway watching as the parade of fourth graders wound their way through the building. It was their final walk through the halls. They were heading to intermediate school. This was their victory lap. We high-fived and yelled out words of congratulations as they passed by. All of the parents collectively trying to keep it together as the parade made their way to the exit and out of the school. They were moving on to bigger hallways and lockers. They were ready to go. They were growing up.

And as the tears streamed down my face, I found myself thinking as I often do  –

How are we here already?

And then – yesterday. Yesterday happened. The moment that once seemed so far away had arrived.

In September, seven years ago, I watched with sadness and anticipation and uncertainty and all of those emotions that strike parents as they are beginning new milestones with their children. I watched as my oldest child walked into the preschool building for the very first time. I watched as she entered the building that was filled with people who would lovingly care for and nurture all of my children in the years to come.

And yesterday, I watched as my youngest son walked out of that same building with all of those familiar faces for the very last time. The time had come to say goodbye and it was hard. So hard.

And as the tears streamed down my face, I found myself thinking once again –

How are we here already?

I know these moments are part of parenting. I know they are part of watching our children grow into the people they are meant to be. I know they are a part of life.

I know they are inevitable.

These years go by so quickly. In a blink of an eye, another phase has come and gone. For all of you who may be holding on to your newborn, this isn’t meant to be a threat or in any way guilt-inspiring. I can remember when my third child was born and my oldest was just three years old. There were many times I felt like I was drowning in dirty diapers, sleepless nights and snotty noses. Well-meaning people with the best of intentions would smile at me and remind me these were the best years of my life. These words would sometimes cause a tidal wave of pressure to wash over me. I needed to cherish this. I needed to enjoy this. But it was hard – so hard. Was something wrong with me – these didn’t feel like the best years of my life.

Now I understand. It isn’t that it’s not hard – because it is hard. Sometimes very hard. It isn’t that you need to enjoy dirty diapers, sleepless nights and snotty noses.

It’s that once you have moved past those tiring, all-consuming moments, you can maybe more clearly see the joy interwoven with the difficulty. All of the hard moments and not-so-hard moments create a beautiful mess that is parenting and once the time is gone – it does not come back.

Time keeps marching forward and they keep growing and milestones keep being crossed. As one chapter ends and a new one begins, I find myself overcome with both sadness for what has past and excitement for what lies ahead. I find myself once again thinking –

How are we here already?

Jennifer Thompson is a stay-at-home mom of four spunky, sweet, kind and sometimes a bit wild children. She has a passion for the written word and thinks that libraries and bookstores are the coolest places ever. When not hanging out with family or writing, she can be found enjoying a good cup of coffee, running, spending quality time with friends, working on some type of project around the house, planning the family’s next trip to her favorite destination – Walloon Lake, Michigan, or very possibly – reading a book.

Jennifer enjoys writing about her parenting experience and outings with her children for Indy’s Child as a freelance writer and blogger and also keeps a personal blog,, that she has fun writing when time allows.

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