When Emry was born, I had three living grandparents. Now, as he approaches his second birthday, I have one.
Emry and my Grandma Syl, New Jersey, June 2012
I was doing a puzzle with Elan this morning, remembering when he first started liking puzzles two years ago. He was six inches shorter then.
At the end of a 7-hour flight just me & my boys, June 2012
When Elan was Emry’s age, he had the same gorgeous wispy-curled blonde hair as Emry does now. People thought he was a girl, just as they think Emry is a girl now. When I was too lazy to comb it out and it got full of dreadlocks, the Peruvian woman who ran his nursery school stuck him in the bathtub, plastered it down with heavy-duty conditioner, combed it out and put him in braids.
Elan at 2 years old, Berkeley, February 2009
When I picked him up, I couldn’t find him in the yard full of children. I didn’t recognize him from the back.
Now he’s starting kindergarten. I know it’s a happy occasion, but everytime I think about it, I feel a mix of uncertainty about the future and nostalgia for my first baby, my first toddler, my first preschooler…
Elan at 22 months, the same age Emry is now, San Diego, September 2008
Today I realized that he’s better prepared to start kindergarten than I am to have him start. Is that what parenting is – always being a few steps behind? Always thinking that if you could just push the “pause” button, you could catch up? I spoke with my grandmother, and she said, “Time moves on. You can’t stop it.” And I know that, of course. But ever since Elan was born two weeks early, I’ve felt behind, unprepared for the next thing, like I’m forever caught still prepping the tiny layette while he’s busy outgrowing it. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I’ve held on to the thought it was because he was born early – that giving birth 14 days ahead of schedule set me on a course of catch-up. But maybe that’s just the nature of parenting, at least when you are a person who leans toward nostalgia, as I do.
Elan at 22 months, just after we moved to Berkeley, September 2008
I’m not sure if he’s nervous about starting kindergarten. I’m not even sure how much he’s thought about it. I’m trying not to impart my own ambivalence on him by talking about it much, since my older child can smell insincere enthusiasm from a mile away. And the summer has been so busy with travel and visits, there’s hardly been time. And now the first day is upon us. His backpack is ready, his lunch is packed, his clothes are laid out on his bedroom floor for tomorrow morning.
Blackberry picking, Birch Bay, Washington, August 2012
I look back to the possibilities for this year Mikhail and I created together, on a cold January afternoon on the beach: love, light & taking the next step. There is nothing to do but take that step that scares you. Tomorrow, we will hold hands and walk together through the gates of the elementary school.
Heaven for a Star Wars obsessed boy, Legoland, San Diego, July 2012
And today, on the last day of summer vacation, I took my boys to the botanical gardens for a walk and Elan and I baked cookies together while Emry was napping. I pushed "pause," even if it was just for a few moments.
Redwoods at the botanical garden, Tilden, today