1 : being at once bitter and sweet; especially: pleasant but including or marked by elements of suffering or regret
If ever something has been bittersweet, it is watching my daughters grow up.
This morning was a quiet one. I woke without an alarm, dressed and made coffee before hearing sounds of wakefulness from K's room. I peeked inside her door to find her laying on her side, eyes open, somewhat awake, but not fully. As I walked over to her, I said, "I heard you waking up and I thought to myself, 'K needs a back rub.' Was I right? Do you need your back rubbed? Do you need a cuddle?" K smiled broadly and nodded. I climbed into bed beside her and she snuggled up. Although she is six, K is tiny: she can make herself the size of most toddlers when she curls up. As I rubbed her back and loved on her, I thought about how fun it has been to see her grow up this last year, but how sad I will be when she (like A or B) doesn't want me to rub her back as she wakes up. When she gives hugs and kisses only on occasion, when she is more independent, when she grows up.
For the most part, I absolutely adore seeing my daughters grow up. I have some friends who go ga-ga over toddlers or babies, but give me an older elementary school kid any day. I love hearing about what they're reading, learning and doing. I love seeing who they're becoming. I find I can relate easier to an older child because I can remember roughly what it felt like to be ten. I can't remember being five or six. (And I think I was a very different child at five or six than exuberant little K.)
I've said many times that I'm excited about homeschooling A next year, but largely because she'll be in fifth grade. I don't think I'm cut out for homeschooling an early elementary child. Partly because my daughters are incredibly social beings who need far more interaction than I alone can provide, but also because I simply can't get excited about teaching ABCs and 123s. But the renaissance? the French Revolution? the implication of monarchies being overthrown centuries ago on our present day experiences? Those things I can get very excited about. And you can't get to those things if they don't grow up.
So I'm OK with the growing up. But there's definitely some sorrow and sadness mingled with the pleasure of seeing them transform from young girls into confident young women. A's sweet friend who is moving to Mexico had a final gift for K when we went by today to say our good-byes: a Dora the Explorer alarm clock. As she gave it to K, she explained that it would be a great big girl clock because she could set it and it would wake her up for school so that mommy wouldn't have to. I smiled, but a tiny piece of my heart broke at the giving and receiving of this gift. Because it's one more bittersweet good-bye. It's good-bye to waking K up by cuddling with her and rubbing her back.