It was a party 14 years in the making. Attendees included nine moms who met when our kids were in preschool. Now, we came together to anticipate and celebrate those same preschoolers' high school graduations.
We sat around a long table at a local restaurant, passing old photos and wondering aloud where the time went.
Fourteen years is a significant span during which a preschooler goes from practically in diapers to practically in college. A mom, however, doesn't change a bit - well, at least not her hairstyle (as one of the ladies in attendance pointed out).
To our kids, the 14 years of childhood probably elapsed at a painstakingly slow pace. From a mom's perspective, it passed in a heartbeat. Clich, I know, but sometimes being a mom is clich - often, in fact, just ask my teenager.
Friendships forged during preschool run deep. My son will room at college with another boy from the class. The same boy is going to prom with one of the girls from the group. Two boys from the class had their eighteenth birthdays around the same time and promptly went together to get their first tattoos. Deep waters start as trickling streams.
For us moms, it began in a narrow hallway outside the preschool classroom where we stood three times a week waiting for our children to be dismissed. We had just minutes together - 10 on a good day - yet we managed to share and bond and build connections lasting more than a decade.
We no longer possess the luxury of 10 minutes of togetherness and chitchat in a hallway three times a week, but we've kept in touch in the sporadic manner that old friends can.
Fourteen years does not unfold in a vacuum. Much has happened since our 4-year-old sons thought they wanted to marry us someday - and we, for our part, believed 35 was old. Our kids have grown up (or nearly so) and we've got more life experiences under our (slightly widening) belts.
Grief has landed on our doorsteps with the loss of mothers and fathers. We've weathered head injury, gallstones, cancer and teenage drivers. We've raised - or are raising - a total of 28 children between the nine families. For a few, the current graduate is their oldest, for others the youngest. We're all still married, which is almost a miracle in itself. We will forever answer to the call of "mom" and over the last decade-plus have fostered a deep love for our own kids and an enduring affection for one another's.
None of us have tattoos.
We're a varied bunch - from talkative to introspective, energetic to calm, cool and collected. Some lead. Others follow. Our friendships are arbitrary; most of us met by chance simply because our kids attended the same preschool. Yet, we are connected by a common history that cannot be defined or replaced. There may be long periods of silence, but we know when one of us is in pain, the others will be there to help; when we celebrate, the others will share our joy.
Fourteen years ago, I don't think any of us had cell phones. Now we pull ours out to show one another photos of prom dresses or our kids' tattoos, not realizing - in that moment - we have left a mark on one another that cannot be erased. Our simple dinner has taken three hours and we promise to meet again before another 14 years has passed.
Deep waters start as trickling streams, and on this graduation day, for a few moms at least, they will end with teardrops. While bittersweet, they will be tears of happiness for own kids as well as those of our good friends.
To think it all started in preschool.
Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, playwright and author of "The Do-It-Yourselfer's Guide to Self-Syndication" You can read more at the Slices of Life Facebook page.