My oldest started a preschool class last year. It was the first she’s ever been to, and her going there was the first time we had ever really been apart…in (at that time) three years.
That first day of her class, I cried. Like, I know that mothers and fathers say that they cry when their children go to school, camp, or class, but it wasn’t until my child went to one of those things that I got it. So when we got to the class on that first day, she ran in, put her coat in her cubby and waved bye like she’s done this before, like she was ready to trust that everything would be okay without me…just like that.
For me, it was harder. But I didn’t want to give that away. So as the tears began welling in my eyes, I did what most people do to “be strong”… I looked at the ceiling, of course. And I walked around the perimeter of the room and smiled and looked at the ceiling and fiddled with my two-year old’s coat and adjusted my baby’s blanket some more.
So I did that and then when it was obvious that it was absolutely time for me to leave, I took my other two children and went to my car. And once there, I made a plan to go to all the places that I said I couldn’t enjoyably go with three children. I would go to the mall and go to a shoe store and…try on shoes. No, even better, I would go to the grocery store and walk slowly. No, it was only two hours, so I would go to Target or Starbucks or… And I did this for like ten minutes. Or I spent ten minutes thinking of all the places I always wanted to go and savor that thing, that feeling that comes with true “free time.” So, I wasted ten minutes doing this and then I called my sister.
“Jenny,” I said. (Jenny is her nickname.)
“(oldest daughter’s name) just went to school and I don’t know where to go. I mean, I could go to Target, but then, I don’t want to drive that far. And I could go…” I started crying then. She tried to console me. And then I said something like, “Things are moving too fast. And I feel bad that they’re moving fast. I feel bad that I am not focusing on what I should be focusing on. I feel bad that I don’t feel like I remember, all the time, that one day my children will grow up and that going to Target alone will not seem like THAT big of a deal. And…I feel bad that she seemed so…fine without me…
I cried more and said something like “Well, she’s growing up.” I acknowledged that. “Yes, she is growing up.” But… and I interrupted myself, “I need to be better at being in this moment, this season, instead of rushing through my life to just get things done.”
She consoled and cried more and then, with a resolution to slow down more and be more present in my long days with my girls, I settled on an easier trip to Costco.
I bring this up because, this story speaks to a crisis that I feel many parents struggle through and because, most significantly, that oldest child, the one who did that preschool class, just turned four!
I’ve been here all these four years, but it really has gone by…so fast. So, I’m happy right now and am remembering to be thankful for these long days with my three little girls, very thankful. And I’m remembering that while my life is not always a walk through a rose garden, I still should remember to walk slow and drink tea and savor and breathe and be mindful that this time really doesn’t have to be so painful, or at least not all the time. Because it really isn’t painful all the time. It can be a bit of pain and joy and fun and wonderful enough that when my daughters and I grow up out of this time, we can have no other feeling but “Man, that time was good.” Not perfect, but really good. No regrets, just happiness. Or, that’s my hope. So, cheers to four years!
p.s. My oldest, the one who is celebrated her birthday on last Friday asked that I write this, “I had fun (gasp) with my family and wish to have a birthday party with all of you, too!…And my little sisters are so cute, and they were invited to my party.”
In case you missed it, I was talking about ISO in the “Just Clicktastic” series on last Friday. Come over and say “hello”!