On the last day of school, my daughter woke up early and bounced into my bedroom fully dressed and ready to go. By chance, she had chosen the very same top she had worn on the first day of school. In September, it looked more like a tunic, coming halfway down to her knees. Now, it was a T-shirt. The countless cycles through the washing machine may have shrunk the shirt, but it’s also been a year of growth in so many ways. On the last day of school, we set off for the 10-block walk to school as we have every school day this year. I have grown to love this walk. It’s the best way to start the day.
Luckily on Day 1, my daughter fell in love with her new school. As a result, on nearly every walk, she’s had a spring in her step, a smile on her face and a genuine sense of excitement for the day that lies ahead. It feels like we’ve covered it all during these 10 blocks… We discuss the highlights and low lights of the weekend past, the plans we have for the week ahead. I’ve listened to her tell me about her friendships and her favorite parts of her school day. She has taught me songs, words in Spanish, facts about architecture and has told me her dreams. We’ve talked about our family, what bugs her and delights her about her little sister, what’s going on in the lives of people we know and what’s going on in the world.
Some mornings we complained about the cold weather and tried to imagine days of sundresses and flip flops. She’s told me jokes, riddles and has also asked me unexpected and difficult questions about things she had overheard in school or on the news. I’ve had to think on my feet and speak from my heart. We’ve noticed stores that have shut down for business and new restaurants that have opened. We have seen the (slow) progression of the 2nd Avenue subway construction. Together, we have pointed out clouds, birds, squirrels and puppies. Most days we hold hands and often say how much we love our walk or how much we love each other. The year is one filled with so many wonderful milestones.
This year, she developed a passion for reading and writing, struggled a little with math, learned to swim and got rid of training wheels. She discovered a love for the piano and made some great friends. We talked about and celebrated each milestone on these walks. I learned about some of her worries, some of the complexities of friendships in her class and got some insight into how her sponge-like mind works. Each walk to school ended with a kiss, a hug, an ‘I love you’ and a final wave goodbye as she went into the building and left me outside to go about my day. On this last day of school I found myself so emotional.
While very excited for the summer and less structured and lazier mornings, there’s a pang in my heart. I already know just how much I will miss these walks. 10 blocks of time, every morning, with my daughter during a simple, happy and carefree year. We will walk this walk for at least four more years and while the blocks will remain the same, I know the walk will change. The conversations will be different, and I dread the day when there might be less openness or willingness to share, less hand holding and spontaneous ‘I love you’s.
Undoubtedly, there will be new milestones to celebrate and new memories to be made and I look forward to all of them. But the walks this year will hold a special place in my heart. I know I will always remember and treasure them and I hope that in some small way, she will too.
Prior to becoming a stay at home mom, Mina was an HR Recruiter for years. Now her time is spent happily juggling the demands of two young daughters while trying to expose them to the endless adventures the city has to offer.
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