It didn’t hit me until I made the phone call.
“Hi, yeah, um, my daughter will be starting kindergarten in the fall, and I need to know what I have to do to get her registered?”
And then it all crashed down.
This is it. These are the last few months I’ll have with my daughter before she starts school. This is the beginning. Come September, my daughter will be out of my house and into the hands of her (trained, professional, loving) teachers.
She will be surrounded by new kids and some of them will be kind and others will not, and for so many hours a day and week, I won’t be there to shield her from the bad or praise her for the good. She won’t be solely my responsibility anymore. She’ll be on her own.
On her own.
It’s terrifying for me to think about. Despite the fact that being a stay-at-home mom isn’t exactly my jam, I’m still used to being there for her when she needs me and being moderately in control of all the things. But now, school is fast approaching, which means we’ll need a lot more structure in our days and nights. I’ve grown accustomed to our wherever-the-wind-blows weekdays, and those won’t be our reality for much longer.
The not-so-control-freaky side of me is looking forward to the change. My social butterfly of a daughter is very much excited about it. It’s a rite of passage and a place where I know she’ll bloom, but until then…
She and I are going to live it up these last few months. I want to soak in all the freedom we have to do what we want when we want to until it’s all stripped away when the school year begins.
If she wants to stay in her pajamas until noon then that’s what we’re going to do. Go to a matinee showing of the latest Disney film? Let’s go! Late-night snuggles because we don’t have to be anywhere in the morning? Bring it on.
I know the world isn’t ending come September when she boards the school bus for the first time, but this phase of our lives together is. And that stings. I want to just enjoy her and her presence.
I want to play dolls and tea parties and dress-up. I want her to embrace being a kid, a little girl, because this stage of life won’t last forever, but I want her to live under the false notion that it does.
School has become much more rigorous at a much younger age than when I attended. So until that day comes when it’s all No. 2 pencils and binders and backpacks and permission slips, I want her to have as much free-wheeling good times as she can. And I want to enjoy those times with her.
My baby girl, my firstborn, is growing up. I’m most definitely not ready for it, and I will no doubt be a heaving, sobbing mess when that first day comes, but until then I’m choosing to embrace her and our relaxed life for as long as we can. I’m choosing to say “yes” when she asks to play. I’m choosing to say “yes” when she asks me to read her a story. I’m choosing to say “yes” to one more show after her brother falls asleep, and she curls up in my lap. It’s the least I can do. I’m going to miss her daily presence so much.
Starting school is the first step on a steep staircase where she will grow up to be independent and autonomous and no longer under just my guidance. It’s all different after this. While I still have her all to myself, I’m going to love on her as long and as much as I can so that when she walks through those doors on the first day she knows she is loved, and she is strong, and she can do and be whatever she wants. And at the end of the day, her mom will always be right there.