published Monday, July 23rd, 2012

Grand Thoughts: Holding it together when babies grow up

Why does time have to go by so quickly?

In less than a month, my baby will be starting kindergarten. Though she's technically my granddaughter, she is nonetheless my baby. My 5-year-old baby.

Sure, I've seen signs that she's really no longer a baby. She no longer willingly lets me tickle her belly button, and she's not too fond of me kissing the back of her neck.

She's ditched "Dora" for "iCarly," and prefers dancing to "Thriller" over "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star."

I've got to face it. She's growing up.

Historically, with my children, I've had difficulties dealing with major milestones like starting school, whether it's kindergarten or college. Cutting apron strings is seriously hard for me.

The day my oldest daughter moved away from home many years ago, my other three children and I stood on the porch crying as she pulled out of the driveway. I stood there with a wet cloth on my face.

It never got easier.

Years later, when my second daughter was heading back to college after a weekend visit home, I cried so hard and long after she left, I made myself physically ill. At least that's what I thought. Turns out I was having a gall bladder attack and had to have surgery several days later.

And, today, I have a son in graduate school in San Diego. It's always painful to say goodbye to him when we visit each other. He's getting married soon, in San Diego, and I adore his wife-to-be. So, now, when I leave after a visit, though I'm very happy, I'll probably cry more because I'm leaving two people I love.

Why is it so hard for me?

Is it because when I see my 30-year-old son, I still see him as my precious little boy?

Is it because when I kiss my little granddaughters, I smell their baby smells and feel their soft cheeks? Is it because the sound of their voices produces off-the-charts endorphins in me? It's euphoric.

Still, I get the same feeling when I'm with my adult children.

I recently spent a lot of time with my second daughter, and it was like I was in heaven. She's a scientist/teacher, and because she's on summer vacation, she has more free time. Being with her as an adult is not unlike being with her as a child. She makes me laugh, makes me proud and teaches me new things. She is so much fun. She moved back to Chattanooga several years ago after completing her post-doctorate work in San Francisco. It's been a long time since we've spent so much quality time together, and I enjoyed every second.

And because my other daughter and two granddaughters live next door and I get to see them almost daily, I am incredibly fortunate. And I see my oldest son often, as well.

Still, time goes by too fast.

I know my granddaughter will enjoy kindergarten. Preschool has prepared her and she knows what to expect. That's a good thing.

And, in reality, it doesn't matter her age. Like her sister, mother, aunt and uncles, she will always be my baby.

about Karen Nazor Hill...

Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...

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