When I'm deep in the trenches of day-to-day life, I don't see it. I spend most of my time slogging through piles of laundry, answering endless demands for snacks and avoiding that stack of bills that taunts me from the counter. Toss in some sports practices, music lessons and birthday parties and it seems, at times, that my life is spiraling out of control. The book bags left neglected by the back door since June 3 when the school year ended are the perfect example.

Then all of a sudden, in a rare moment of calmness, I pop my head up out of that trench and realize that life has continued on while I wasn't paying attention. In that moment of clarity, I realize that my last baby is going to middle school. Middle school. A concept that seemed light years away when that same baby was wailing away in her crib or playing with a ball of Play-doh in preschool.

Somewhere in between the practices and lessons and daily life, that baby is not so much a baby anymore. She's taller. Like a lot taller. And she doesn't really like me calling her a baby anymore. She's funny and sarcastic and logical, although that part comes and goes.

Somehow middle school has arrived before I'm ready. I have the desperate urge to go back a few years. Maybe she needs to color a few more pictures in kindergarten or write some more in her first-grade journal. She probably needs a couple more rounds of rocket math and another science experiment or two.

But that's the thing about time. It just keeps moving forward whether I'm ready or not.

She's definitely ready to explore middle school and all it offers.

Whatever has been in that book bag by the back door for the past two months can wait a few more days.

My baby and I have plans.

Email: sfellenstein@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9437

Twitter: @HudsonMonthly