It is 10:45 on a Friday morning and I’m in the kitchen cutting a peach into slices. Tears slip down my cheeks and I take a deep breath. A few minutes earlier I heard a play conversation from the other room where my newly 3-year-old is playing with Lego guys.
“I really love you. I do!”
“Thanks! You’re the best!”
“You’re the best too!”
This mimics an exchange that we have countless times each day and I can’t help but feel smiley and gooey as he plays it out in his Lego family, which is comprised of several ninja. As I head to the kitchen I hear him make one of his guys ask “What are we doing today?” To which another replies, “We’re going to school!” followed by an excited gasp.
And so, as I cut the peach’s white and rosey flesh into an orange plastic bowl, tears well up in my eyes and brim over. They are tears of sadness and happiness; of confusion and uncertainty; of excitement and regret. In an hour and a half I will take my very last baby to his first day of preschool. He will stay for one hour and fifteen minutes, if he even lets me leave the room. It is barely a dent in our day, but it is an enormous event. While he will always, always be my baby, he is NOT a baby any longer. He has a place to go where I don’t belong. I am torn between anticipation for this next part of life and mourning for the life that will no longer exist.
Today I take my son to his first day of school and a bridge will be crossed that we can never go back over. Today we embark on an adventure that will have us each taking solo steps. It will be hard and it will be fun and it will change us. I worry that he is not ready, but more than that, as I tear up again, I’m trying to tell myself that I’m ready.
Now that school is back in session my mornings have gone from sleeping until 8 and then waking up to drink my coffee and peruse Facebook to rushing around like a freaking lunatic starting at 6:45 in an attempt to make sure that everyone, including myself, is fed, clean, dressed, and has everything needed for the day in time for the walk to school. This rush usually leads to arguments, which lead to a frustrated mommy, which leads to yelling–all of which do NOT make for a wonderful start to the day.
Given my description it’s not difficult to see that I hate pretty much everything about morning. From opening my eyes to shoving shoes onto little feet and pushing them out the door, morning just seems awful. But morning also holds one of my favorite parts of the day–one of my favorite parts of parenting to be honest–waking my kids.
Yep, I LOVE waking my kids up and , no, not in an “I love to torture them” kind of way. In general, on school mornings, I have to wake both boys up. I’m up earlier than they have to be to get lunches ready and breakfast prepped. Then, about five minutes before Brady needs to be up, I climb up to the top bunk and gently shake him awake. Then I tell him he has five minutes and ask if he wants to snuggle. He usually responds by rolling over and pulling my arm around him. It’s warm and cozy and since I really don’t want to have gotten out of bed yet anyway, I close my eyes and pretend I haven’t. We lie there like that for 3 or 4 minutes and then I tell him it’s time to get out of bed and we climb down.
I then give him breakfast and set him up with whatever he wants to do (we allow TV in the morning). Then it’s back for round two. I lie down next to Declan and whisper in his ear, “Morning. Do you want to snuggle.” This is usually met by a stretch and some sort of groan or lip smack and we snuggle together in his bed for a few minutes before I have to force him to get up by offering to let him watch Peppa Pig in my room.
From there on out, all bets are off. I feel like I go from shoving food down their throats to forcibly brushing their teeth to struggling to pull socks onto their unwilling feet. Well, Brady does most of that on his own, so instead I’m following him around telling him 15 times to do each thing before he actually does it. But at least I get my peaceful moment of lovey warmth each morning. Because, like so many things about raising children, morning is all about finding that good thing that makes it all worth it.
This morning I was lucky enough to be a chaperone on Brady’s class trip to our local fire station. Although it’s only 5 blocks from the school we took a bus, which might have been the most exciting part of the trip for most of them. Most kids here only take a school bus for field trips.
The fireman giving the tour had a super-thick New York accent which made it all the more awesome. He went over fire safety with them first, then they got to see a fireman in full gear and touch all of his cool equipment. Then each kid got to sit in the truck and we took photos of all of them. Next they went through the ladder truck to see the hose and then got to check out the pole, complete with a fireman sliding down. It was lots of fun.
At the end we were outside the firehouse waiting for the bus and the kids were asking the men questions. Outside of our firehouse is a memorial to the nine men from the station who died on 9-11. They each have a photo with their names underneath. Most of the kids’ parents had spoken to them about this at some point, as I had with Brady. But some of them were asking lots of questions about the dead firemen and what happened to them. The man who gave the tour answered them in the best way possible, but I can’t imagine how hard it must be for him to have to answer this each time a class comes through. Tough.
Still, it was a great trip. They got a call just as our bus was coming around the corner and the kids got to watch the men put on their gear and get into the truck. A perfect ending. I felt really lucky to be a part of it. It was a great way to spend a morning.
My stomach was turning, my palms were sweaty, and my heart was beating out of my chest…and all I had to do was drop him off. Brady started kindergarten on Thursday. He is no longer my little baby and instead is a full-fledged school kid.
My guy, all ready for school!
The week or so leading up to this day were filled with anxiety for me. At first I couldn’t exactly pinpoint why. I mean, I was nervous for him to have to be away all day and nervous about how he would like school and the other kids and his teacher. It’s a huge change in his life. But I realized that it is also a huge change in my life. For almost 5 years, I’ve spent the majority of my time with Brady. He had some time in school and camp and I spent some time working, but for the most part, we’ve been together.
On his way.
The weeks ahead will be an adjustment for both us. After the first day, which was a half day, he told me that “kindergarten was great!” But later that night when we were laying in his bed he told me that he was “not too comfortable with this all-day thing.” Friday changed his mind on the all-day thing, but he did tell me that “school is a little boring.” I’m really hoping that will change since it’s like he plucked one of my biggest fears about him being in school right from my head and told me it was true.
I’m at once excited and nervous for him to be starting this new phase of life. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with just one kid all day. I’m hoping school is interesting and challenging for Brady, and that he makes friends and isn’t bullied and does well. And yes, I’m getting ahead of myself a bit, but I can’t help it. My baby is out of my hands for 6 hours a day, 5 days a week doing things I know very little about. It’s slightly nerve-wracking.
Ready to learn…maybe…