For me, 2001 will forever be the Year of the Babies. During that year, quite literally every female I knew of childbearing age was pregnant. Coworkers, lifelong friends, and even some family members were all pregnant. It truly felt like there was something in the water. At that point in life, I was happily beating my chest that I was career driven, never wanted to be a parent and had never changed a diaper. That never changing a diaper stuff was a distinction I would hold until the day I brought my son home from the hospital in 2004.
Most of these babies have spring and summer birthdays, about half have turned 17. In fact, today is one of those “babies” birthdays. They have all grown into beautiful young ladies/handsome young men and all around good kids. I knew they would. They all have pretty good gene pools. But, in all honesty, it’s so weird to think about all these children being one year from legal adulthood. The majority of them are entering their final year of high school in the fall. I’ve seen previews of senior pictures. I’ve heard about college visits. I cannot imagine how my friends are truly feeling knowing this is their kid’s last year at home. Actually, that’s a lie. I can imagine it and quite frankly it doesn’t compute. There is a disconnect up there in my brain. I find it exceptionally hard to reconcile that these chubby-cheeked babies, some of the first I ever voluntarily held, are almost grown. I cannot process that my friends (and me) are old enough to have children who are nearly legal adults when it feels like we were graduating from high school and college about 10 years ago. I mean, I can still remember in vivid detail getting my senior pictures done. I remember the poses, the clothes, the hair, the makeup. I even remember the lipstick color I wore – Little Red Russet from Bath and Body Works. Yes, they used to carry makeup along with that lovely 1990s Cucumber Melon body wash. I remember having to pose against a tree at a park and being worried bugs would crawl on me. I remember going back to the school and doing the drape picture in the home-ec room. I remember being stunned that the drape was just a piece of cloth. Up until that point, I thought it was a dress that everyone had to wear – something like the graduation cap and gown. How can it be these memories are still so vivid and yet I can’t tell you what I ate for dinner two nights ago?
I think the biggest shock of these babies turning 17 is how much I have watched them from afar. I’m not a person who oohs and ahhs over kids, yet I care about these kids because they are the offspring of some of my favorite people on the planet. Moving around as much as I have over the last 20 years, I have spent very little time with most of these kids. Yet, I have watched every little detail ever published on social media about these kids lives. It’s almost like stalking a celebrity. They don’t know me but I know them – at least the version of them that their dear parents have shared. At times, I regret that I didn’t live closer. I regret I couldn’t babysit or help when my friends were in the thick of little kid parenting. Although, they’d all agree with me that I would have been crap at it back them. I regret I couldn’t be a more active participant in these kid’s lives. But, as the saying goes, it is what it is. I’m thankful my friends have shared as much as they have. I’ve enjoyed watching these kids grow up. I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for these babies. I know it will be awesome.