I remember it clearly. I was sitting in a beautiful Catholic church, my spirited 1-year-old son bouncing on my lap. I was struggling to keep him busy so he wouldn’t cry out in the middle of a formal wedding ceremony. The woman to my left had just told me her son was to start kindergarten soon.
I was jealous.
It sounds terrible, I know. My son was still a baby. But the days. The days! They were so long. He was too young to do most of the things I had looked forward to enjoying as a mother: art projects, park outings, baseball games. I was still mourning the loss of my independence. I was not yet resigned to putting someone else’s needs first at all times. I occasionally resented it.
In the church that evening, when the mother told me her son would start school that fall, I counted in my head how long it would be before my son, my first baby, would do the same. Four years. It felt forever away. Another lifetime, really.
Now here I am. We waded through the last four years, a little child at my heels nearly every day, often all day. It was better than I expected. It was harder than I expected. I find myself caught between excitement and sadness as kindergarten looms, just months away. The end of an era. The beginning of an era.
Though I nod along sympathetically with other parents—the ones who tear up at the mere mention of school—I don’t fully relate to them. Yes, life will feel different. Yes, I will miss my firstborn’s sweet face during a long school day, especially the quieter times we spent together, probably more than I expect. I am also feeling a burgeoning sense of pride. We did it, I think, when I look at his lanky arms and toothy smile, we’ve come a long way.