Last week, I handed over our white potty seat to a forty-something employee at Goodwill — a man who didn’t look like he wanted to take it off my hands.

“It’s clean,” I said, as I placed the seat in a large canvas rolling cart. Or I could have said, “It’s as clean as a potty seat used by three kids and lent to several friends’ kids can be after ten years.” But that definitely seemed more information than he wanted.

Over the last decade, this mini throne has held three little girls as they’ve learned to, um, go, and its time has come. Our youngest is able to make it up two flights of stairs from the basement to the only bathroom in the house without back-up, we don’t think we’ll need it for other children in our future, and I am no longer nine-months pregnant and on the verge of a mishap two floors down. (Don’t judge.)

So in a way, this parting with the potty seat feels like the end of an era.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not waxing nostalgic for the days of training, false alarms and accidents, but it’s hard to believe how big they’ve all grown. One by one, leaving babyhood and toddlerhood, becoming kids.

These things have a way of surprising me. On one level, I see it coming. I watch the hand dimples leveling, once long pants shrinking ever shorter and faces growing more angular. I feel the passing of time with each school year that ends. I know it when I realize how tall they’ve become in the last four months, how they move chins-up through the world. But, like all of you, we’re living each day as it comes, so the big picture can be lost among all the smaller ones.

For the last ten years, I’ve joyfully marked off early years milestones from my mental list:

Taking in nourishment. Check.
Smiling. Check.
Cooing. Check.
Talking. Check.
Walking. Check.
Sleeping through the night. Check.
Sleeping in a big girl bed. Check.

With the potty chair pass-off, it hit me hard that, though we’ve got plenty of milestones to come, we are on the other side of many that defined the beginning years. The milestones of which I thought, “Once she _______, then we’ll be able to __________.”

So as we embark today on this new season with our big girls home for the summer (yay, vacation!), I feel the shift, too, into this new life season.

At 10, almost 7 and 3 1/2, my daughters can share differently in life. Though a good number of years span their ages, they enjoy playing and being together (a good amount of the time), and there are fewer trade-offs, fewer holdouts for the somedays.

In all kinds of ways, this is the someday I looked forward to and, in true mama fashion, also mourn — that bittersweet joy of seeing them grow and seeing them grow.

Next year, Lala will head to preschool (what?!), J will be a big second grader and Sici a fifth grader.

But today — today we’ll stay long in our jammies, bicker about who last got a turn with the favorite blue spork, play a board game we all like and tonight, we’ll snuggle under the covers to read a book about a girl who finds a secret cottage and makes it her own.

It’s as if this girl might be any of them now.

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