The alarm goes off and I reluctantly toss my hand somewhere in the vicinity of the clock. I have no choice but to drag myself out of bed. I’m disheveled and cold. The blankets are warm and welcoming. I have to get my kids to school. I drag myself across the floor to the children’s bedrooms.

I wake up the oldest. She tosses and turns and finally pushes herself to get out of bed. Her hairs a mess and I smile as I recollect the days I had to work the braids in order for her hair to grow. Barrettes askew, matching rubber bands and outfits, life was simple. I look at her now and wonder where the time went. I watch as she picks out her cutest outfit and daydreams about which dress she’s going to wear to the 6th grade dance. I remember those days as if it happened seconds ago. I hear her roll her eyes at me, as I am in her way as usual. You can’t really hear eyes roll, but somehow you feel that you do. You always know when it’s happening. She mutters some type of “move” or “Mom, you’re in my space,” I reluctantly give her privacy. It seems like one day I’m dressing her for school and the next I’m worrying about dances, boys, and whatever other grown up things there are. Part of me longs to protect her from life, to keep her young, but the other part is proud at how she’s growing. I exit only to wake up the next sleeping beauty.

I look at my middle child’s peaceful face. She looks totally comforted, calm, and care free. She has no worries. Life is good and her only problem is if she is going to decide to share with her brother or not. I try to wake her, but she flips over. She is the hardest child to ever awaken. After several attempts, she gets up tousled and begs me to please let her stay in the bed. I reluctantly tell her no. I get her dressed and she finally finds her energy. Energy is what she thrives on. Soon she talks to me about her boyfriend and his huge Mohawk. I listen silently, inside my head is screaming that she is too young to have a boyfriend, and I have to remind myself that she is only four and that her definition of boyfriend is playmate. I see the strength in her eyes and I wonder what she will do with that when she is older. I can only pray that she will make good choices, and I vow to be there as much as humanly possible. She is the epitome of strength and I hope she defines that strength in positive mannerisms. I know that I will have the least influence on her. She is independent, so I swear to teach her young, while I am still important. I reminisce on the times when she was so young not allowing me to hold her, her seven month old body walking across the floor and falling down only to try again. She has always been strong; she will always depend on that strength. I hope she does it successfully.

I tiptoe into my boy’s room. I try to open the door quietly so I can see him sleep. Somehow this has become a game. I know that I will never succeed. He wakes long before the rest of us. He requires minimal sleep. He is last to sleep and first to waken. He is a happy-go-lucky child and wakes up as such. I open the door and he is hiding under the covers. He roars at me and giggles as soon as he sees me. He is a monster and wants me to run away. I scoop him into my arms and kiss his soft cheeks. As I get him ready for school he whines, “Mommy, I need to stay home with you,” his crocodile tears cut through my heart, and I recall those same tears when he was a tiny infant. He used to hold my finger as tight as he could and snuggle up to my chest. His crocodile tears would keep me rocking and singing to him for hours. I long for those days. I miss being the sole source of survival for these children. I miss the clinginess and sometimes even the tantrums. I am proud of how my kids are growing. I enjoy having the house to myself. I am glad that the kids are doing okay in school. I am glad that they are adjusting to their friends and teachers, social life, and activities. Sometimes though, it feels bittersweet.

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