I dropped my youngest child, fondly referred to as my caboose, off for kindergarten round-up this morning. He looked so big and grown-up as he took the hand of his middle school ambassador and walked down the hall away from me, without looking back. All morning I’d had butterflies, feeling nervous for him and a little excited too. But, I was not prepared for the intense sadness. . .the lump in my stomach as I pulled away from the school without him.
Today, I only left him for a brief hour, but it represents the end of a beautiful chapter in my life. Being four and a half years younger than my middle daughter, we’ve had five years together while his older siblings have been in full-day school. He’s been my little sidekick, a great source of happiness.
I realize now that I’ve parented my third child with a different perspective. With my first child, I thought that whatever phase I was currently experiencing (teething, potty training, full-body tantrums, whining, bed wetting, etc.) would never end. I sincerely believed that each one would go on forever; I could not see the light at the end of the tunnel. With my third, I had the experience to know that he would eventually outgrow each one. And that allowed me to minimize the importance of the negatives and to enjoy the positives in a way that I had not allowed myself with my first two, who are only 19 months apart.
With my third, I know how quickly the time at home with me will pass. I cherish holding his little hand in mine as we run errands and have made it a point to play with him everyday. Because I know that one day, he’ll prefer his friends to his mom. I cherish his open acts of affection, sitting in my lap at church and kissing me on the cheek repeatedly. Because I know that one day, he’ll be too big and too self-conscious to do that anymore.
My job as a mom is to raise my kids so that one day they will be able to soar from my nest. Like so many things involved with great parenting, it is totally counterintuitive. I love having my little chicks at home. My happiest moments are when my sweet family of five is together, enjoying each other.
I also recognize that my deep sense of sadness is coming from a place of selfishness. I really am only sad for me. I know that kindergarten will be an incredible year for my son. He will grow and learn at an unprecedented rate. So, I must choose to focus on the amazing year ahead for him: his great teacher, new friends and all of the skills that will provide the foundation for a lifetime of learning. . .