I admit, I look at my Facebook memories almost every day. Usually it’s because I’m still awake at midnight and mindlessly scrolling to slow my teeming thoughts, but even if I am asleep before the new day, I check the memories in the morning.
I’m also nostalgic (and sappy), so there’s a lot of “aww, look at how little they were!” As parents, we’re aware of how our children are growing and changing, but sometimes looking at a photo from just a few years ago can drive the point home. Teeth have been lost, faces have leaned out, personalities have developed, and looking at the kindergartener’s face of a few years ago next to the fourth grader of today can still surprise.
As we’ve gone through the last few Januaries and Februaries, I am aware of those moments in 2020 when we didn’t know what was ahead of us. It struck me even more this year, perhaps because I’ve also noticed some parallels. We had a mild winter in 2020, much like this winter, and I remember thinking we could use one good snowstorm for a break in the routine! Well, we certainly ended up with a break, just nothing we could have predicted!
The men’s basketball team for which my cheerleading squad cheers was on an almost eerily similar track in this year’s playoffs as it was in 2020, and I was hoping that meant we’d have a similar result. Alas, we were eliminated in the semifinals when a last-second, long-distance shot fell short, ironically, falling to the team we beat in the semis three years ago when their last-second, long-distance shot fell short. So we won’t be cheering at a championship game this time.
Looking back at the pictures from that championship run, it was startling to see how quickly COVID changed everything. In retrospect, we were fortunate that our playoffs were early, because most collegiate conferences had to cancel their championships as the world started shutting down weeks later. We still felt the sting of COVID, as our basketball teams lost the entire 2020-21 season, and we lost our cheering season along with them. Many of the cheerleaders who would have returned that year lost out on a final season due to graduation or transferring to University Park. We started from scratch in 2021-22 with only two veterans and we’re still in rebuilding mode.
But the changes that truly strike me are the ones in my daughters. Of course, they were going to physically age, from ages 4 and 6-almost-7 then to 7 and 9-almost-10 now. Back then, they took pictures with my cheerleaders after the championship, doing simple stunts. This year, with a few seasons of sideline cheer under each of their belts along with several cheer camps, clinics and classes, they’re begging my cheerleaders after games to throw them in more advanced stunts like extensions and heel stretches.
The baby-faced little tagalong preschooler is now a confident first-grader who is a whiz at reading and has performed in summer stock and other theater productions. The quiet first-grader who was too shy to talk in class is now a bold four-sport athlete and competed in the school geography bee against fifth- through eighth-graders.
It probably will tug at your heartstrings, but check out your Facebook memories every so often and marvel at how your kids have grown and changed. I’m curious to see what 2023 will look like to the Jen of 2026.