At school not long ago, I was passing through main hall when I caught a glimpse of one of our counselors coming into the building, her daughter in tow. Since it was almost Halloween, her daughter was dressed in costume, ready for our child development class' "Pumpkin Parade."
My first thought? Adorable!
My second thought? It was just a few weeks ago that MY daughter was coming to school with me for that parade!
Of course, it's been more like 11 years since Katie was in preschool, but I can remember so well those Thursday mornings when I would get to bring her with me to work. Soon after first period began, a child development student would come to take my baby girl to the preschool, where she would wow her teachers and elicit plenty of AWWWWWs.
Before Katie's stint, Ryan was a preschool regular. In those days, each trimester's "preschool" consisted of six or so Thursdays spent in classroom activities with a few special events (like a Christmas party or pep rally) sprinkled in. It was great fun for them, and it was an excellent learning opportunity for the high school kids in that child development class.
But mostly, it was an excuse for me to bring my babies to work. As a working mom, my daytime hours with the kids were at a premium from August through May. Those Thursday mornings were bonus moments for us. And oh, how I loved to show the kids off to my teacher friends and students! Dressed in their cutest outfits, Ryan and Katie both got plenty of attention as we made our morning rounds to drop off my lunch in the lounge or check my mailbox.
I can't lie; I really miss those days. I miss having preschoolers with matching Bear in the Big Blue House backpacks. I miss the Crayola scribbled take-home papers. I miss those bright faces recalling the fun things they had done in class. I even miss the juice stains that always ended up on those cute outfits. I miss it all; that's why the sight of my colleague's daughter brought tears to my eyes.
But only for a minute.
Now that Ryan and Katie are in high school themselves, Brett and I constantly marvel at them. They are funny, sweet, smart, cool, crazy, loving people, and we genuinely enjoy being around them.
When the kids were much younger, they'd sometimes ask if we were friends. I would always insist that no, I'm MOM! That's my role, my job. But now that they're older, I truly interact with the kids the same way I would with friends. What a blessing to carry on a conversation with them, to talk about the day's highs and lows, to share our joys and disappointments, not to mention our favorite TV shows.
Of course, I'm determined to avoid being the "cool mom" who thinks she and her kids are peers. I know that Brett and I must be parents first, friends second, that there's a definite line that must delineate our roles.
But man, is it great to not just love our kids but really LIKE 'em, too.