Next year is the year, people. It’s when Karis starts kindergarten. My youngest. My last. I haven’t quite figured out how that’s supposed to feel.

Part of me thinks I might break into song and go skipping jubilantly through my house. Because freedom! I will be able to work without distractions every weekday. I will not have to struggle to maintain a work-life balance because I can just WORK during those precious hours. I can blog and write and Facebook and plan dinner and all those things without my tiny little mini-me lurking in the background.
Then part of me wants to sob because my tiny little mini-me will no longer be lurking in the background. Because THE TIME: Where did it go? Who’s going to ask me to read to her? Who’s going to sit in my lap and snuggle? Who’s going to inspire my #assholeparent hashtags on Instagram?
No one. I will be alone.
Joy and sorrow. Beauty and ashes. That’s the struggle of the human experience, especially from a parenting standpoint. We long for the freedom of the future—potty training, independent kids, simplified travel, empty nests—until those things actually arrive. And then we pine for the good old days when they were babies. It feels like I’m always on the verge of the next big milestone, and always ready for it to get here as soon as possible. But when that next stage arrives, it brings along a little sadness, because we also lose something. Transition always leaves something lovely behind, and in the immortal words of the great 80s glam metal band Cinderella, you don’t know what you got till it’s gone

I’m gonna miss little Karis, just like I missed little Jafta—who’s now going into 4th grade and is growing up so fast he probably already has his own YouTube channel I don’t know about. Kembe and India were just in diapers, it seems. Now they are little little adults. Childhood seems to take forever until you’re a parent. Then it takes, like, two weeks and suddenly they’re showing you their new tattoos and helping you fix the wifi and the whole childhood thing’s DONE.
So I’m wavering between excitement and sadness. Between optimism and deep, sinking woe. I guess you could say all those things average out, which makes me…ambivalent?…about these changes. I long for them and then I find myself on the bathroom floor ugly-crying when it finally happens. 
Awhile back, I wrote about the song “Stop, Time” from the musical version of Big. (Yes, there was a musical version.) That song still haunts me. Those lyrics:

You want your kid to change and grow but when he does, another child you’ve just begun to know leaves forever 

So this is just a long way of saying I’m really feeling it today. The parenting paradox. How do you find a way to experience every moment and celebrate every stage of life while also holding aside some dreams for the future? How do we focus on contentment in the present rather than longing for either the future or the past? 

I’m still trying to figure that out.

Speaking of kids going up to fast (did you like that segue?), it’s never too early or even too late to start putting money away for your child’s college.This post was sponsored by Scholarshare, making California’s 529 plan accessible and easy to manage.