I always knew there’d come a day when my son would be ready for something that I am not.
Like all parents and their children, he and I have been through a lot of firsts together. I’ve witnessed and guided his transition from infant to toddler to preschooler, from a nursing baby to a boy who devours everything in the fridge, from a Sesame Street fan to a Star Wars buff, but none of it has affected me like the transition we’re about to encounter: the move to kindergarten.
The funny thing is that I used to hear other moms dread the start of kindergarten, and, to be honest, I used to consider them, well, a tad melodramatic. After all, it’s only kindergarten, not college. There are still so many years ahead; they’re still so young.
But that’s what causes the sadness in me. The panic that maybe he’s not ready. Or, more likely, that I’m not ready.
Because he is so young. Just six years old and in two weeks he’ll spend the bulk of every Monday through Friday somewhere else, outside this home. He and I won’t be able to lazily make our way to the breakfast table each morning, to slowly make our way through French toast or chocolate-chip pancakes. We won’t be able to take mid-morning jaunts to the park or take all day to make a plaster-cast volcano and finally, after the paint’s dry, watch its food-colored baking soda erupt all over his tiny dinosaurs waiting at the bottom. I won’t have his eager help washing windows or changing laundry or baking cookies.
He’s still so young and there are so many years ahead of us before college or career or life takes him away from me for more days than I care to think about. So many years, and how many days of those years will he spend the majority of his waking hours away from me? Still so young, and I still have so much that I haven’t taught him yet. So much more shaping and molding of character to do. Can it all be done in a few hours each evening and on weekends?
Thoughts like these take me back to my desire to homeschool (if only my husband would get on board; but, we’ve debated it and, for now, that topic’s a sleeping dog). But, even homeschooling would leave me with a pang in my gut. Because, as a homeschooling friend shared with me, there would come a day when my youngest would be starting kindergarten and I’d realize that all my babies were quickly growing up. That there are no more diapers to change or bottles to feed. That there’s no one else to teach to use a fork or spoon, or to teach the movements of “Itsy Bitsy Spider” to. The teaching now would be all reading, writing and arithmetic, and I’d miss those baby days.
But, for all my sadness as these final weeks of summer vacation wind down, the Lord is good. Because these transitions don’t completely take away the normal we know. Slowly, life ends one routine at a time so that we almost don’t notice the change. Nursing days end, then rocking to sleep, and without realizing it, we suddenly have a child who puts on his own pajamas and reads us to sleep.
Sometimes, though, the ended routine is a big one, and even then, even when it’s noticeable, God ‘s goodness helps us through. For me, it’s in the eagerness of my son to start kindergarten. His excitement – for new friends and playgrounds and a sense of independence – simmers down my sorrow and helps me to wear a smile for him.
Because though I’m sad for me, I’m happy for him, too.
And it helps to know that even in this big transition, we will have some semblance of our old life together. We’ll still have lazy mornings every weekend, and long days of “Well, what should we do now?” to fill each holiday vacation. We’ll still have family dinners around the table and cuddling with each other and books before bed. We’ll still have time for crafts (though likely more guided by school assignments). We’ll still have time to learn from each other as we pore over homework, and just when we’re tired of all the rigidity of tight school schedules, we’ll still, thank God, have summers.
Until the next one arrives, then, we need to get by. We need to find ways, when the going gets tough, of learning to enjoy this new normal. For our children who may not be excited about the change. For our kids who are excited but still harbor some hesitation. And, certainly, for ourselves. I’ll offer suggestions to help us through in the next post.
Image credit: vitalinko for dreamtime.com