Last week we hit an enormous milestone with Liam: The first day of school. The past five years have flown by in the blink of an eye, and just like that he’s leaving us to spend the day somewhere else.
I must admit I didn’t know what kind of feelings or emotions I was going to have. To be blunt… I thought it would just be another appointment or scheduled item in my calendar. The only thing that was a non-negotiable for me was that I wanted a kick-ass “First Day” sign. Call me a sellout to the pressures of social media if you must, I don’t care.
But then September long weekend arrived, and it started to get very real. I needed to get a lunch kit, I needed to buy a second pair of shoes, I needed to take Liam shopping for more clothes, I needed a backpack to put all of this in, I needed labels for all the above and I needed more time… a lot more time! Maybe another year or two.
A wave, or rather a tsunami of questions, regret and guilt washed over me. How had I squandered five years of life so quickly? What had I done of note with Liam while I had him 24/7? What memories were made? Was he ready for this journey? Had I prepared him enough?
I had good intentions. I had made a lot of plans. I had even STARTED to take action with some things, but I never get the gold star for completing anything.
And just like that, I was dropping him off and wiping tears away as we said goodbye to each other. It was not an easy transition for any of us. In fact, the last two weeks have been quite rough on all of us. We’ve ALL been transitioning and adjusting to this new routine and chapter in our life.
Liam still napped up until September 1st. So, that has been one huge adjustment. However, he comes home now and goes to his room for some “quiet time” and usually falls asleep for a short nap anyway.
The energy in our home has changed drastically. It’s calmer and quieter because he and Ethan aren’t tearing the house apart while screaming at each other. That being said, Ethan misses his big brother something fierce. He continually asks where Liam is and when he will be coming home.
And I have to make school lunches now. Every. Single. Day.
It's interesting to me how much focus and attention is put on milestones for our kids, while all along they represent a milestone for us as parents too, yet no one recognizes that. They represent incredible change for the child, and we are encouraged to help the child adjust to them slowly and gently, yet the changes that occur for the parents are just supposed to be taken in stride without missing a beat.
I immediately began worrying about whether he was ready to be gone all day, ever day. Does he possess the skills needed to survive without me? The teachers have made it clear to us that with most essential skills, they will NOT be helping the children. Like feeding, clothing, toileting, etc. Now, he knows how to do all these things, but we’ve never tested it. And he still needs help from time to time, just like everyone does. So, what is he going to do then?
It was fascinating to observe the different attitudes or personalities of the different parents those first few days. A lot seemed to be in the same boat as me. They lingered a bit longer, had a bit of a concerned look on their face, gave their child that second hug and a few even crying WITH their child during drop-offs. And then there were the other parents.
I’m not one of those parents who was excited to “be rid” of their child and have some time to myself. I overheard a conversation between a couple of moms on the second day of school where they were excitedly talking about how they were “finally getting their life back” now that school had started again. They were talking about how they had spent the first day – those six child-free hours. One said she had taken a nap after a long bubble bath while sipping wine. The other said she had watched an adult show on Netflix and finally had the opportunity to clean the house (although that was scoffed at quite quickly).
Now, part of me understands where they might be coming from. But the other part of me doesn’t. Maybe it’s because I’ve got two more at home still, and they only have the one child? But I miss my little guy. The house feels empty now, even though today there were still SEVEN people here!
The learning curve I’ve been put on has come as quite the shock. All the new expectations of how to do life with a school-aged child. The added administration and paperwork for him to (successfully) attend this school. The forms, the emails, the waivers and the homework. And I keep thinking that we’re only in week 2 of 650.
Kindergarten may be a fun, exciting new beginning and enormous milestone for Liam, but it also catapults me into a new era of life too. It seems like every day I’m being pulled or pushed into something new, and like I said, the expectation is that we as adults can adapt or instantly figure it out for ourselves, while simultaneously coaching our kids through their own transitions with the new milestone. It's tough. And I know, no one ever said parenting was going to be easy, but I just want to know one thing…