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Scarlett Radke gets on the bus for her first day at all-day preschool. (Amanda Radke/Special to Agweek)

A mom's musings at the bus stop

Last week, we drove our four-year old daughter Scarlett to the bus stop and watched her head to her first day of all-day preschool. Yes, I held back tears as I waved goodbye as she rode away on the bus. Although I feel such joy and excitement thinking about this new chapter in Scarlett's life, it is a bittersweet moment realizing that our first born baby doesn't seem like much of a baby at all anymore.

In just a few days at school, Scarlett has come home excited to sing the new songs and recite the days of the week she has already learned. It's remarkable to watch little minds at work, and I know in the upcoming months, she'll gain a wealth of knowledge that will serve as the foundation for her K-12 education.

Yet, it feels like just yesterday we were anticipating her arrival. At long last, our first baby — we didn't know if we would be able to have children — so Scarlett was truly a gift from God that we didn't take for granted. Her baby years were spent with me splurging on boutique clothes and playing dolly with my little girl. I was never two feet away from a camera, and I swear her first year album rivals the length of a Harry Potter novel.

Documenting her first laugh, first steps, first day at daycare and all of the other "firsts" have been incredible to experience as a parent, and it seems like in the blink of an eye, she'll be a senior in high school, headed to college, walking down the aisle at her wedding day or having babies of her own.

I'm terrified that the next 14 years will flash by, and I'll wonder where the years have gone. As she begins her school year, I will wonder if she'll remember her manners, if she'll be kind to the other kids, if she'll have a positive attitude for learning and if she'll remember the values we've tried to instill in her. I hope we've done enough to give her a good start. And I know there is so much more we can do to ensure she grows up to become a wonderful human being.

But watching her go on that bus makes the last four years feel like a millisecond, like grains of sand slipping through my fingers. Yes, absolutely, I'm excited, but it's all MOVING. SO. FAST!

I take comfort in the two little boys we have at home — ages two and two months. Even having two in diapers, I'm relishing in all of these sweet baby and toddler moments knowing that it won't be long until they, too, don't need their mama quite so much.

Certainly, I can't be the only parent feeling these emotions as our babies head off to school. Yes, it's bittersweet, but it's wonderful, too, to see your children blossom and grow. Each new day they reveal a new side of their personalities and a hint at who they might become as their passions and strengths develop.

As the school year begins, I pray to have the wisdom to guide my children in the direction God wants them to go. I'm a natural planner, so I may have the tendency to try to map out my childrens' lives, but ultimately, all I can do is lead by example and my own actions to help them become the best people they can and want to be.

So if you're feeling that mix of emotions — bouncing back and forth from sadness for a chapter closing to excitement and anticipation for what's to come — know you're not alone. Truly, the fun of parenting is just beginning, and I can't wait to see what the future holds for our little school girl.

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