This is about me going to kindergarten for the last time. One last time as my youngest goes off for her big day at school. The excited anticipation of the first day is palpable. What to wear? What to pack for lunch? Who is Violet's new teacher? And, will they take good care of my baby? There will be new friends to make, a new school to enjoy and new experiences to be had.
I am 36 years old and I am going to kindergarten. While I am excited about this big change in my life, I am also nervous and sad because my youngest child is off to school. So sad in fact that I find myself tearing up at the school office while filling out paperwork for admittance into kindergarten.
"Is it your baby?" asked the kind lady behind the desk. "Yes, my last one." I replied. "Ah," she commiserates, "my youngest kid is in middle school this year."
After I finish filling out the paperwork and put down a deposit to hold Violet's space in the full day program, I go home grieving but happy. Violet is there waiting for me with big brown eyes, a hug and kiss, and of course a fabulous story concocted from her imagination. I hope that I have made the right decision for her and our family to put her in full day kindergarten. Only an hour or so earlier, I had received the phone call telling me that a spot had opened up for her in full day. We were next on the waiting list. I hesitated. I had finally adjusted to the idea of Violet going only to morning kindergarten. They had cancelled the enrichment program at our school that I had planned to send Violet to two afternoons a week. So now it was all or nothing. Full day kindergarten would mean she would be gone all day, everyday. That I would only be with my kids together, both of them at the same time. The special alone time of the preschool years would forever and finally be over.
Two people have now said to me, "No more babies for you!" because Violet is starting kindergarten.
"How did this happen?" I wonder. "Wasn't I just pregnant with her?"
I can still feel her pregnancy in my body and soul. I can still smell her sweet baby scent and feel my arms cuddling her while nursing in the wee hours of the morning, just her and me. But she has grown so much and she is so very ready for the next stage in her journey. Am I? Am I ready? Can I bear to watch my last child, my baby, go off into the world? Mentally I know this is just the beginning and that I need to let her go with love and confidence. I remember how my mother clinging to me as I neared the end of highschool drove me mad. It could not have been a surprise after all that I would be leaving home soon, didn't she expect it? Hadn't she known for years that this time was coming? Now that I am here and experiencing separation, not for the first time, but on a new level, I am able to appreciate some of what she was going through. All the while during the past 5 years while I changed diapers; made food; cleaned the house; read stories; scheduled activities; created art projects; put kids to bed; cleaned up astounding, sometimes disgusting messes; and more; my baby has grown up. It was a sneaky wonderful thing to do.
In the meantime Violet's older sister is doing her own growing. She is reading novels; developing artistic skills and learning things unknown to me. I can sense her mind working quickly behind those beautiful hazel eyes. I can feel her absorbing all she can from the world, from each situation and interaction.
The experience of raising children, of watching them grow magnifies the poignancy of life. If you don't pay attention, you might miss it. To take a moment and stop to see my children growing, this is truly bittersweet.