Preschool to College

There is a bit of comedic irony in that as I am grieving the inevitable milestones that have now become our Septembers, I am reminiscing about entering preschool myself many moons ago.  I was that kid who chose to stand in a corner for an entire day instead of going to school.  One of the many early indicators that I had a mind of my own and it was a strong-willed one.  I remember our very first day of preschool.  I say “our” because it really felt as if I was going through the transition like he was.  I woke up anxious and couldn’t crawl out of the skin I was in.  It wasn’t just that I was nervous.  It felt like a loss.  I questioned if I had prepared him enough.  Did I make the most of out every moment?  What if he is too attached and doesn’t go in?  I was convinced that his attachment to me was stronger than his will for independence.

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Not only did he go into his classroom, but he went in with confidence and ease.  I, on the other hand, felt the anxiety ooze out of my bleeding cuticles.  Two hours couldn’t go by fast enough.  I was certain that when I went to pick up my first-born, that he would be anxiously waiting for me with outstretched arms and even a cry for “Mommy,” should I be so lucky.

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He didn’t.  I was that mom with the three year old who got upset when she came to pick him up at the door.  Perhaps you don’t understand.  He was the only child that would actually blurt “No, mommy, go.”  I was crushed.  How could this be?  I thought we were so attached.  This must mean he doesn’t want to be at home with me.  This must mean that he sees what I’ve known about myself all along.  I’m not good enough.  Even my four-year old thinks I’m a failure.

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I had some redeeming moments to help lift my ego off of the floor between then and now, but one thing still remains to be true.  Every September I feel that uneasy stir in the pit of my stomach and I can’t control the sadness I feel.  When we decided to have two children less than two years apart, I didn’t quite think about what that would really mean.  Oh, and by the way, I didn’t even consider the fact that we would have two children (and then three) in high school all at once.  I never was a logical thinker.

Now, my second child was beginning preschool.  This meant they were going in together, but I felt left behind.  This is going too fast and I begin to recount every complaint, mistake, failure and misjudgment I have made that stole moments I wasn’t truly present for.  I begin to think about the two children that give me the purpose to get up when I could have easily stayed down.  There she was, like he was.  She was ready.  I had to bring both of them in that morning.  One after the other.  When I dropped her off, I looked at her.  I made sure I was present.  I wanted to focus on her face.

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She walked in with confidence and ease, just like her brother did.  It dawned on me that their confidence in uncertainty was better equipped than mine.  Unlike their mother, they embraced the change with excitement and fearlessness.  How could these two be mine?

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When I picked them both up, they couldn’t wait to tell me about their day but most importantly that they saw one another in the hall.  Hall?  I flash-forward to a blink from now when they’re socializing in the hall as the bell rings (if they’re like me) and keeping secrets that they carry home with them.  After I put them down for their nap, I cried.  I didn’t want them to mistake my tears for sadness.  I was relieved.

Even if they felt anxious, it didn’t seem to paralyze them.  They had a confidence I don’t recall having or feeling.  Not even now.  They felt safe.  Or, as Autumn put it she knew “I would come back.”  I prayed that with all of the mistakes I am bound to make as their mother, that they know I’ll be there.  I will be there because they’re my invitation to show up.  September will continue to come around, but there is no RSVP date.

That day ended with a prayer and promise.  A promise that I won’t allow my sadness and grief rob me from showing up and a prayer that God slow things down a bit.  In my mind, it still feels like they’re going from preschool to college.

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In love & truth,

Grace

6 thoughts on “Preschool to College

  1. They feel safe bc they know you will always be there! Time flies way to fast and there will always be moments where the grief of them growing up slaps us in the face. Happens all the time love reading these truths from your soul xoxox

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  2. Think I may be too old to share in your stories.. I’m way past the time of sharing with all of you.. You are all capable adult women doing the best you can. I lived in a much different age. See, I am that Dinosaur wife,mother & grandmother. I’ve been through these experiences. My oldest really didn’t want to go; he’d rather stay at home. My second enjoyed preschool, but didn’t want to hold girls hands during song time.-call from teacher- My third couldn’t wait! He wanted to do everything his brothers did. He like everyone & they liked him. “Oh, the places he wanted to go” & did so -as much & as often as he could. Was I doing everything they all needed? What if they ended up hating me for saying NO or losing my patience. Oh, how much I prayed for patience. As different as we are, we really want the same things……to be the best wife & mother and to realize & celebrate who WE are, During MY time we didn’t get that & the backlash can be brutal decades later So, what you are doing is wonderful & will help so many. Don’t forget to give yourselves kudos. You All deserve it. Keep talking!

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    • It means a lot that you joined the conversation Sheila because I believe you have tremendous value to it. Even though there are generational differences in the experiences and sentiments of all women & mothers, there is also extraordinary value in honoring how those differences can also connect us to one another. I believe you are not unlike many women and mothers who are visiting this very page to find a forum they were either denied or discouraged from having for themselves. Whatever one’s struggle is, there is value in honoring that for us women when we carry the weight of the world around us. Patience! Oh yes, patience. It’s a virtue I pray for each and every day. Thank you for sharing and honoring my story that I truly believe can connect us all if we allow for it. You are an extraordinary mother and grandmother who has tremendous value to offer the conversation. It means a lot that you took the time to join mine.

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