It was like a scene from one of those tear-jerking Lifetime movies.

We had just left kindergarten registration and had stopped for lunch. I looked in the rearview mirror at my rising kindergartener and began to tear up. She was going to “big girl school,” and while she shared her excitement about what she thought of her new classroom, I was having a tough time getting used to the idea.

Now, in the restaurant's bathroom, reality hit me hard. I had just finished lining the seat with toilet paper so thick that you would've thought I was trying to protect my little princess from Ebola. I lifted her up and she gave me her usual public toilet bear hug, clinging on for dear life. She said to me as she'd said many times before, "Mommy, don't let go."

I realized at that moment that there would come a day when she'd no longer need my assistance. There would come a day when I'd have to let go. One day she'll line the toilet seat by herself like a pro and even learn how to enter a public bathroom and not touch a single thing, using her elbows to turn on the faucets and open doors.

I'm hoping that she'll think of me and the years that I taught her these skills. I hope she never forgets the day when I turned on the hand dryer and it scared her so much that she let out the loudest scream. I hope that one day she'll take the time to use the foam soap to create a “marshmallow nose” for her own child the way I did for her.

This moment caused a bout of nostalgia, and I found myself reflecting on the days when my boys would have to use the women's restroom with me. They'd each take turns going before I'd lined them up outside the stall to wait for me.

This year the three who once allowed me to dress them alike will enter the ninth grade. They've grown into young men with very different personalities. Needless to say, they no longer need my assistance in the restroom.

Time has shown me that it waits for no one.

In a matter of years that felt like minutes, I went from changing diapers to arguing with a 5-year old who refused to wear anything but her favorite Shimmer and Shine pajamas, rain boots and Hello Kitty toboggan to the grocery store in the middle of the summer.

I went from listening to three little boys beg for tools dripping with cake batter to each of them begging to practice driving through the yard. They went from fighting over Pokemon cards to arguing over who scored the most points in a simple basketball game.

With them, no matter what the argument was about, there always were three sides to their stories.

There would be times when these disagreements would leave me counting down to the moment when the nest would be minus three, but the closer it gets to that final year of high school, I find myself praying for time to slow down a bit.

My home would not be home without the frequent fights over the bathroom in the mornings. My walls wouldn't be walls without fingerprints from amateur dunkers who can't help but jump and tap each time they walk through the living room.

As we embark on this new journey, we say goodbye to day care and hello to “big girl school.” We also leave junior high behind and take on new roles as freshmen.

I know it won't be long before we're sending the boys to college and sending the kindergartener to third grade. Until then, we'll enjoy the moment as we fulfill our duties as referee and fashion police.

Wishing you all a successful school year, from our family to yours!

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Christine McCormick Cooper lives in Florence and is employed at PGBA. She enjoys spending time with her husband, teenage triplet sons and daughter. Contact her at citizencolumnist@florencenews.com.

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