I used to wonder about that phenomenon other people called their biological clock. I can’t say that I ever heard the ticks or the tocks about having a baby; I was one who never thought I’d have kids until one fateful night in an Emergency Room in downtown Chicago, and I was certainly in no hurry to become a mom. These three glorious beings that call me that now were gifts I didn’t know I wanted, gifts I sometimes think I just don’t deserve.
But the ticking and the tocking have been waiting for me, gaining strength and a little bit of vengeance through the years. I heard them tonight; whispers, probably, compared to what I’ll hear in the years to come. Tonight they were guised as tunes from my teenage years, and I got lost at first in my trip down memory lane as I remembered ringing Stardust Skating Rink as the Go Go’s ‘We Got the Beat’ filled the air.
But reality bites harder as we get older, and I’m no longer 13 and the Ravenwood Elementary gym isn’t Stardust; now I’m 43 and it was my gorgeous girl standing on a stage, decked out in Madonna-esque garb singing songs that I’ll probably forever know the words to. But those songs tonight became the nothing more than a backdrop to the ticks and the tocks, reminding me that my babies are no longer babies.
Tonight was my very last elementary school music program, at least as a mom. I’ve been through countless others in the very same gymnasium; I’ve seen a variation of the same few dance moves over the past 10 years, I’ve listened to my kiddos sing holiday songs and Hawaiian songs and western songs and everything in between. Each was sweet and funny and poignant in its own special way, but none of them were the last. Until tonight.
Tonight the ticks and the tocks made their debut, and I know it was their fault that the tears trickled down my cheeks as the fifth graders sang ‘we are the world…we are the children…’. The ticks whispered ‘she’s almost a teenager’ and the tocks said ‘look how big she is now.’ They joined forces to remind me that this is our last year of recess, our last year without ID cards and our last year before she will have to navigate the throngs of students pushing through a hallway during a passing period.
And, selfishly, I listened to what the ticks and tocks whispered about me. They giggled a little bit when they reminded me that as she ages so do I, and that as the years pass my role as mom changes. It didn’t seem to faze the ticks or the tocks that I’ve been down a similar road before; she’s my third, not my first, and the transitions from elementary to junior to high school have toughened me up. I wield that experience like a shield, hoping to deflect the reality that this year is the last year before things really, truly change for my girl and me.
Problem is, the ticks and the tocks know they hold the trump card. She’s my baby. My last rodeo. I have a feeling that as our year passes the whispers will grow louder until they’re the only thing I can hear. Here’s to hoping I find the volume control.