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The First of the Lasts


by Tracie Grimes
Tracie is a monthly contributor to Kern County Family Magazine

BarbieShoes
I am becoming sadly aware of how quickly time is rushing by. The days seem to come and go before I am even fully awake. I just want to stop it for a few moments, so I can sit with all my children around me. It hits me at the strangest times—passing by the baby food aisle at Albertson’s or walking through the children’s clothing department at Target. Last week, it hit me after I finished talking with my son’s teachers during my parent/teacher conference. Most years, it was a time to be feared and dreaded; not because my children were in trouble or anything, but because they would be home. Two whole weekdays that extended the shouting, bickering, whining, and leaving of debris trails that usually only took place on the weekends to a full four days. Last week was different. I walked across the OLPH School yard gazing at the empty swings and closed classroom doors and realized it was my last parent/teacher conference. As the tears welled up in my eyes, another parent walked by widening her step and not making eye contact with the crying mother who must have gotten a bad report from a teacher. My little pity-party continued for the rest of the day. “How did your conference go?” one of my co-workers asked when I walked through the doors. Gulp…gulp. “It wwwwwasss my laaaaast conference,” I said with a quivering lower lip. I think I scared her a little, because she began backing out the door mumbling words that were meant to comfort and empathize. “Oh, that is sad. I know I would feel the same way.” How ironic is life? One minute you’re praying for a few moments of peace, so you can get makeup on both eyes or go to the bathroom without little hands banging on the door or the sound of crashing coming from another part of the house. The next, you’re looking at an empty swing. Had I been a good mom? I don’t know why I was so irritable when they were young. Oh wait, yes I do: the mystery stains on the furniture; the time my daughter created a “masterpiece” with markers on her baby brother’s face while I was on the phone (thank goodness, they were washable); or the countless times a random toy or shoe would come sailing towards my head while I was driving the kids to some play date or birthday party. Still, the house is so quiet. Even with two of my four children still at home (when they have nothing better to do, anyway), the silence is deafening. Gone are the Barbie shoes and Legos I used to step on when getting up with a sick child at 2 am. Gone are the Charlotte Diamond tapes with songs about carrots and squiggly fishes. Gone are the Sponge Bob, Buzz Lightyear, and Harry Potter Halloween costumes. Call me a sentimental fool, but this transition to an empty nest isn’t as easy as I thought it would be. Still, when I get too down in the dumps, I think back on my days with four young children and remember the immortal words uttered by Ed Asner, “Raising a kid is part joy and part guerilla warfare.”

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Tags: Featured Story, Parenting


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