My daughter graduated Pre-K last May. It was an adorable ceremony with singing, a photo montage, and cupcakes, signifying the end of a era. For me, this included full time pre-school payments. I swear, it felt like I got a raise. More importantly though, it also meant that my child was officially growing up and starting elementary school in the Fall.
I have to admit, I really wasn’t all that upset over it and didn’t feel weepy or sentimental about “the first day”…when it was over 2.5 months away. It felt distant still, like it was happening, but I didn’t have to think about it yet, so I wasn’t going to. My daughter was totally ready, didn’t seem nervous about it and I guess that also made me feel I didn’t need to think about it so much. It was coming, but hey, we had lots of summer to go.
That is, until two days ago.
I went to Target in search of a water bottle for summer camp. As I wandered to the back where just the week before, the floor space had been filled out grills, pool paraphernalia and assorted outdoor décor, there were…back to school displays. Rows of them. Book bags, supplies, lunch boxes.
It caught me off guard. I was unprepared.
Yes, school starts early where we live, but still, already? I felt this unexpected pit in my stomach. No, it wasn’t the thought of having to go through quite an extensive list of supplies and do back to school shopping. When it comes to shopping, that generally elicits a sense of dread for me. No, this was because that thing I pushed back in my mind as being so far away was in fact here and in front of me when all I wanted was a stupid water bottle because, doggone it, it was still summer.
Ugh. And now, here are all those emotions that people have asked me if I’m having with my first and only going off to elementary school. Those emotions I said I was not having. That I was sure I was not having.
When asked, I said that I was fine, that she wasn’t worried or nervous so neither was I. This felt true at the time. Yet, there they were. Those emotions. A little sadness, which I didn’t expect, and a little nervousness (is she going to make friends, is she going to be happy, will she study like she’s supposed to). What is going on?
I know, you’re probably thinking, just get the water bottle and walk away from this emotional dumpster fire. Well, I did get the water bottle and I did walk away but it bugged me that just seeing a bunch of back to school stuff could make me feel like that. I really thought I was ok with it and all those sentimental, worrisome emotions would pass me over like a tornado that skipped a house and just hit somewhere else. Nope. It touched down, right on top of my house, just when I thought the coast was clear.
I am happy my daughter is moving forward, taking the next step. I would never want her to stay little forever, though I do like this post-toddler stage where they are snuggly, sweet, and less crazy for the most part. But some of me mourns that passing of time a little as well. We tried to fit a lot into this summer and have fun together before the more rigid school schedule takes hold, but I guess I just wasn’t as ready as I led myself to believe.
This feels kind of like when your child is sleeping and you are looking at them, all peaceful, quiet, and not needing anything from you. As you sit there, forgetting the tantrum over a cookie or the bedtime meltdown, you think “stay like this just a little longer”. Maybe it’s partly because having a few extra moments of peace will keep you sane. It’s also because you want to soak in that moment and how you feel, for just a minute, before the hectic nature of the day takes hold. It’s not because you don’t want them to change, ever. It’s just, right now is so nice.
That’s how I feel. Right now is so nice, but I also know that it has to change. So, I’m just soaking it in, just for a little bit longer.
We can get school supplies next week. It can wait. Just for a little bit longer.