Thoroughly Modern Mammy Maria discusses how seeing her Leaving Certificate students graduating has made her realise how quickly time goes by.

In a week in which our news feeds and minds were filled with tragedy, both at home and overseas, many of us are more emotional than usual.  Well, I certainly am.

Last Friday, before the horrors began, I sat at my school prizegiving and watched my beloved babbies graduate from school.  This in itself is nothing new.  I’ve been attending it for many years, but this year, I found myself a blubbering wreck at the back of the hall.  It’s always an emotional night, but for all the right reasons thankfully.  We celebrate their achievements, their friendships, their memories of their time in our school community, and most importantly, we celebrate their future.

Every year, parents send us in photographs of their kids from when they were little.  It’s put together in a slideshow and each year it gets giggles and a few tears.  So why did this particular year hit me so badly?

Well apart from the fact that the kids are genuinely one of the loveliest bunch I have ever taught, I found myself looking at their photographs through new eyes.  You see, most of the snaps were from when they were pudgy little wobblers and crazy little schoolkids.

I found my self looking at the images and seeing my own girls looking back at me. So many of the snaps were just like the eleventy billion snaps The Him and I have on our phones, and I suddenly found myself thinking about the images that I have now, that will certainly appear on that same screen down the line.

I looked around the room.  The 6th years and the younger kids were laughing, full of embarrassment and smiles, scoffing their friends as their respective images appeared.  The parents however, while laughing, were different; more subdued perhaps, each caught up in the narrative of their own minds; What goes through a parents head on such a bitter sweet occasion? How are those images suddenly 18 years old?  I only took that picture last month surely? How are we here already? Where has the time gone?

I suddenly found myself imagining myself sitting there, watching images which have surely already been taken, of my own little princesses, wondering where the heck the time has gone.  And I was suddenly heart broken for the parents, who as proud as I’m sure they all were, were most likely wondering how this has happened?

As parents, it is normal to give out, and to complain and to scold.  It’d be in the Parenting Handbook, if there was such a thing. But no matter how crazy our kids drive us on a given day, and no matter how much we complain, the fact that we love them goes without saying.  A parent’s love is the only unconditional love.  Unlike the photographs and memories, it doesn’t fade.

After Monday night’s tragedy, we all took stock of ourselves.  We hugged our rascals a little tighter, appreciating them just a little bit more than the night before.  As parents, our hearts broke for the families in Manchester who are beginning a journey that none of us ever want to embark on.  Other news has reminded us all how we truly do have no idea what is ahead of us.  None of us knows what might happen tomorrow, or tonight.

My 6th years left my classroom on Thursday.  One of the final things I said to them was “Go and be you.  You’re the only person who can do that.”  I genuinely wish the world for each and every one of them.  They have so much to give.

Life is short.  We wish it away sometimes.  “It’ll be easier when…”   “I can’t wait until…”  “You need to GROW UP…”  All normal things to think and even say, but sometimes, life is a nasty little bitch who slaps us in the face and makes us take stock of what we have RIGHT NOW.

So hold them close and breath them in.  And take those photographs; ALL of them; on your phone, with a camera, in your mind.

And keep them safe… They, like our “minis”, are precious.