I didn't think about it. I just pulled out my phone and quickly snapped a single frame of my son holding my hand as we walked toward his new classroom on his first day of Kindergarten today. He didn't see me take it, nor did I want him to, as my phone went right back in my pocket a second later.
I had already taken the obligatory photo before we left home; you know, the one of him standing still, all polished and pressed, wearing his new school outfit and backpack, in the typical "first day of school" style. He wasn't holding a dated chalkboard sign or anything, as is the trend these days; but he still looked cute, smiling and posing for posterity, as requested by me, his personal photojournalist.
So, why this one? Why bother taking in motion an uncomposed, blurry snapshot? I certainly didn't need it to remember the moment, one my heart and mind will not soon forget; yet I took it anyway, like some sort of parent paparazzi.
Maybe it was because I wanted a visual to accompany the words I would inevitably need to write. Maybe I simply desired a tangible image to encapsulate my feelings in that moment. Or maybe I just needed to capture and freeze a glimpse of my perspective, the one looking down at his little body, with his little fingers holding mine, before he or those fingers grew even one centimeter more.
I don't know. One second I can't wait for things to progress, for him to grow, change, move on and move up... anything to get past the challenges of his present age and developmental phase. Another second I feel like his childhood is slipping through my fingers like sand on a beach, moving fast out of my grasp, without my consent, against my wishes, and beyond my control.
What I do know is I am only one mom - one of countless mothers around the world - who is having this same experience or one similar to it. If not today, then last week, next week, or even next month. This fact doesn't make it happening to me any less significant; it just helps me recognize that I am not alone.
I am only one mom, yet I could be so many. I could even be you.
One mom ushering in another milestone of her little one's life... welcoming the start of her youngest child's school years, while simultaneously bidding farewell to the baby and toddler years for which she had most recently dedicated her life.
One mom saying goodbye to the realities of those precious, yet equally exhausting, days and months that occupied and consumed most of her time the last five years, and in my case - with two kids - the last ten years.
One mom who understands and appreciates what this new, monumental change means for her existence.
I am only one mom of many guiding her child into a new stage of childhood, while also leading herself into a new chapter of motherhood.
One mom feeling a mix of relief, elation, and anticipation for what the future will bring, while still experiencing a touch of melancholy for what is now past and will not be again.
One mom who knows she will never be the same person she was before she became a mother; but one who hopes that somehow she can get back a little of her former self, or at least be afforded the time and space to reimagine and reinvent her present self - this woman in mom's clothing - not only in the eyes of the world, but also in those of her family, and more importantly, in her own.
I am only one mom no longer having to stay at home because a baby or toddler is there for which to care; and one who now vows to go out and reach and do and be the things that will make her feel a bit more whole again.
One mom who will create and find what she desires, to love more, live more, and feel even more grateful for her life, her children, and the privilege to be the one and only mom to hold their hands as they walk toward, through, and into their lives.