Today is the first day of Middle School for my baby. She would hate that I just called her my baby for all of you to see, since she's not a baby anymore. First time ever walking to school. Up to now, she has always taken a bus, since the elementary school is a few miles away. But the middle school is only a few blocks away, so she gets to be a walker. With friends from the neighborhood. First day in a new school. First day being a "big girl". And other changes, too. Changes to her hair ( we had to straighten it last night); new jewelry to wear (thank god Claire's had a sale!). She looks older than she did in June, just a short time ago.
And firsts for me: First time I don't have a child in the elementary building. First time I wasn't out on the porch watching the kids waiting for the bus. First year that I won't have a classroom to hover in; the middle school teachers discourage all that hovering - trying to teach our kids to be responsible and independent, so my involvement at school will be more observatory, less participatory.
So I'm feeling a little wistful today, my last little one is leaving behind a part of childhood, and walking toward teenhood. But not a teen yet, and when its just us, I am still allowed to call her my baby. And that will always be enough, no matter what stage of life she is in.