This summer we went on a family vacation to the Sleeping Bear Dunes—that veritable mountain range of sand. We squinted our eyes against the electric-blue sky, taking in the towering hills above us. Can we make it to the top? I wondered. It would be a steep enough climb even if we weren’t schlepping water bottles, snacks, and diapers, not to mention two small humans.
Your dad and I listened studiously as the park ranger went over safety guidelines with our group. He told us how sometimes people start the climb but aren’t able to finish, and what to do if you get tired or hot or stuck somewhere between the base and the summit.
We were nodding along, taking in all the tips, when in a surge of panic, I realized you were gone. We scanned the parking lot for your trademark green ball cap. Where could you be? Then I spotted you climbing—no, sprinting—up the dune. Somehow, in the span of minutes, you’d made it two-thirds of the way up, all by your barefooted self.
I tried to call out to you, but the lump in my throat silenced me—a lump that was one part pride, one part fear, and one part I’m not ready yet.
You started kindergarten last week. It shouldn’t have come as a surprise—five comes after four, six comes after five, kindergarten comes after preschool. These are linear steps, predictable chronologies. And yet I find myself standing at the bottom of this sand dune, looking up at you with a mixture of pride and fear and I’m-not-ready-yet.
When you were a baby, I heard so many times that the days are long and the years are short. I tried to soak in this advice, but I don’t know if it’s possible to be prepared for the inevitable time-slip of watching you grow up. I am no likelier to freeze-frame you at this stage than I am to preserve a dandelion puff or capture a sunset in my pocket.
You are adamant that I am Mom now, not Mama or Mommy. It’s strange how quickly you are changing while I stay the same. I look at pictures of us together, how you once fit in my arms and how your arms now wrap all the way around me. I remain the same height while you keep inching higher.
As soon as your dad and I think we’ve found a rhythm in a new season with you and your brother, things change. Your brain is growing, your heart is growing, and your soul is growing. Your questions are getting bigger along with your shoe size, and the problems you’re up against are increasing in complexity along with your math problems. And I find myself ever a step behind, racing to catch up.
But maybe I’m growing too, just less obviously than you. At the very least, my rib cage must be expanding, because how else could my heart contain all this without bursting?
And so, as you turn six and climb the mountains God has put before you, know that your dad and I love you. And when you face mountains that you have to climb all on your own, know that Jesus is with you, running to the top beside you.
We’ll be cheering you on, whether we’re ready or not.
Mom and Dad