I put our jogging stroller on the curb today to be taken out with the trash. We bought it on Craigslist when my daughter was an infant. The tires no longer stayed inflated, the fabric on the stroller was faded and worn from use. It shook and rattled when you ran with it like an old beater with its tires out of alignment. It had a good, long run. After taking it out for a race Thanksgiving morning and realizing one of the tires were flat as I was pushing it uphill, 40-lb. daughter inside and too far into the course to turn back, I had decided its time had finally come. Still, as I saw the garbage man throw it into the abyss of God knows what in there, I felt a little sad.
My child is now 4 ½ and in February we will be registering her for Kindergarten. Even writing that feels surreal. She, of course, is ready for the “big school” because, according to her, “that means no more naps.” Upside for me, she won’t have a 1-2 hour nap each day so maybe going to bed earlier is once again within reach. Ok, not getting my hopes up too much, but we all need something to look forward to.
Anyhow, all of a sudden, in the past year, the last vestiges of her baby-ness have gone away, well mostly. Yesterday, she got into a tiff with a friend because the girl put the lips on Mrs. Potato Head when she wanted to. We’ve come far in some ways, but in others, maybe not quite so much.
Nevertheless, there are little signs everywhere that our baby is really growing up. The weekend before Thanksgiving, we headed to my sister’s for a quick trip to attend our nephews’ joint birthday party. When heading for home early Sunday, my sister suggested our daughter stay with her. Her family was coming to us for Thanksgiving in a few days anyway, so our daughter wouldn’t be away long.
It was the first time she had been away and we were home. It was so weird going back to a quiet house. As I was sitting there, giddy with the possibility of being able to do anything I needed to any time I wanted to, I realized that this was what it was like all the time before I had her. It felt so strange.
I’m not going to lie. For a couple of days, it was pretty nice. My husband and I went to dinner AND a movie for the first time since before she was born. I went to the grocery store and actually could get everything on my list. Nothing was thrown in when my back was turned. Nothing was forgotten because I was trying to keep things from being thrown in. I just got it done. And I didn’t feel like I had endured the crucible afterwards.
It’s all that little stuff you took for granted pre-children, like when you pick up something, it stays picked up. Food is not found in weird places. There aren’t any strange smells in your car that seem to have no identifiable source. You don’t have to watch anything animated unless you just want to. You can actually sit, in peace, without anyone needing anything, for longer than 5 or 10 minutes. It was blissful…for a couple of days.
And then I was ready for her to come home.
By the time we saw her Wednesday night, I was so ready to have no time to myself again. Yeah, freedom is nice, but this is better. Don’t get me wrong, I think breaks like this, especially knowing that she has fun and doesn’t lose her mind, will be great for us all. Just not too long of one I guess.
So, my little girl is quickly becoming a big girl. It feels like an eternity since she was born, and a hot second all at once. She cares about how her hair looks and about her outfits. She’s also articulate, smart, compassionate and creative. She is not a person who will be pushed around either (that’s my girl!), but her feelings can still get hurt easily by people who matter to her (yeah, that’s my girl). In less than a year, I’ll be dropping my big girl off “at the big school”, or as she knows it “the place of no naps”. She’s totally ready. I’m ready, but kind of not.
When I started this blog over a year ago, my biggest worries were traveling with my job and being away from her, bedtime battles, and the general frustrations of living with a threenager. So much has changed in that time, and even reading back on earlier things I wrote, I’m reminded how far we’ve come (THANK THE LORD). Jobs have changed. Schools have changed. Friends have changed. Time has passed. In the stew of everyday life, sometimes, you just need to be reminded of how things change because you forget.
I hope all of you this holiday have a minute to breathe (hey, it’s a wish, not a promise), remember how far you’ve come, and be grateful for the gifts big and small, that you have. Me, I’m grateful to have survived the toddler years and that my big girl is growing up to be pretty amazing. Trying, at times, but amazing.
Here’s to a new year of who knows what lies ahead! May it all just be survivable. Cheers!