Birth to Graduation: Just Like That


By Karen Putz,
H&V Board Member

wake board
David Putz wakeboarding on Christie Lake

In a few days, my oldest son will be marching across the stage and ending the final chapter on his high school years. I'm pretty sure I'll be sitting in an auditorium seat, crying.

There was another time not too long ago when I was crying. It was a day when I was overwhelmed and overtaken by three little kids. David was six at the time and he was on hurricane cycle, bouncing from one room to the next, creating havoc everywhere he went. He scrambled from one toy to another, pausing just long enough to whack his four-year-old sister upside the head when she wouldn't relinquish a toy that he wanted. Steven, the two-year-old, was having a meltdown on the floor–the consequence of being overtired and refusing to take a nap. The house was in shambles, with laundry scattered every which way on the floor. The missing laundry basket had turned into a step stool as wayward hands tried to reach a box of crayons on the kitchen counter. The lunch dishes sat on the table with tidbits of food glued to them. The yet-unfilled school registration forms were hidden somewhere in the piles of papers on the desk.

I sat down and cried. I counted the minutes until the hubby came home to provide some much-needed relief from a day that seemed to go on forever.

My mother-in-law tried to warn me that the day would come when I would look back on this and miss those days. "Life goes by faster and faster as the kids get older," she told me. "Hang on to these days, because before you know it, they'll be over with and you'll miss them."

I remember dismissing that advice, because back then, an hour was an eternity and the days were measured by how quickly we could get to nap time. But here I am, years later, planning a high school graduation party. And what do you know… the mother-in-law…she was right.

Here I am, indeed, wondering how it's possible that motherhood has come to an end so quickly– because now I have a son going away  in the fall to college in New York. I can't even bear to think of the day when we will be driving out east and saying goodbye in front of a dorm room. I don't even want to know what it will be like to sit down to dinner each night with an empty chair at the table. When I close my eyes, I can remember burying my nose in David's hair, drinking in the sweet scent of a newborn baby. Today, when I go to hug my teenager, my arms wrap around a body that can bench press a few hundred pounds. How is it possible that the little baby that I held in my arms just yesterday is now graduating from high school?

Just like that, eighteen years have passed by. Yes, just like that.

Karen Putz lives in Illinois, contributes regularly to the Communicator and blogs at

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