My little girl is growing up, and sometime next week she´ll be heading off to part-time preschool.
Since she was born, I´ve been at home with her. We´ve taken classes, such as music and mommy and me. We tried mommy and infant yoga, but she was far too active for that and would crawl through my legs every time I was in the downward dog position. We bought zoo passes and garden passes and we´ve spent hours in the house doing puzzles, playing with blocks, and building pillow forts, under which we would sit and read books or cuddle.
I´ve picked up freelance writing positions as much as time would allow since she was about six months old, and in the past year have been working on my own business endeavors. I work when I can: late at night, during naptime, and early in the morning. While I never get caught up (either the housework is in dire need of attention or my workload is overwhelming), I´ve been able to maintain, which was okay by me.
My husband and I began talking about preschool when my daughter turned a year and a half. She´s a very active girl, the kind that you often find hanging from the ceiling fan or jumping off of the tallest ledge around. When she turned one she figured out how to climb up onto the kitchen table, and she would do so as often as she could.
She is also a complete social butterfly, flitting from one group of people to the next, repeating hello until someone responds. She walks over to groups of kids that are much older than she is and sits down to play. She will say goodbye to every table that we pass as we leave a restaurant.
I love this about her.
Lately when I drop her off at her friend´s house for a visit or take her to the nursery they have at one of the classes we attend, she bolts as soon as I set her down and disappears into her little toddler crowd, exploring and chatting with her friends. When I return to pick her up, she is always happy to see me, but she wants me to come inside and play. If I tell her it is time to leave, she says no and runs away. At my friend´s house, she heads for the drapes and steps behind them in an attempt to hide from my view.
So because of these reasons, we´ve decided to start her in preschool a bit earlier than expected. She needs interaction with the other children; interaction that I can´t give her through music class and gymnastics and play dates. I feel that by keeping her at home, I´m holding her back from this, and I want her to have as many experiences as she can in life.
I know that she´ll be fine in school, but tonight as I put her to bed I sat in her room until she closed her eyes and fell asleep.
She will be okay, but I´m not sure that I will be.
I don´t know how to let her go, even for only a few days a week.
As I watched her tonight, I thought about how little she was only a year ago. I remembered how we spent each day going for morning walks and then playing on the floor until her first nap. I thought about the past almost two years, and the times we´ve spent exploring the neighborhood, checking out the ants, and her most recent favorite pastime, baking, and then eating, muffins.
I´m excited for her to begin school. I know she´ll love it, and I have the feeling that she will be one of those kids that wakes up in the morning and asks if she is going to school for the day. It´s only for a few days a week, so we´ll still have time to take trips to the zoo and bake muffins.
I also know how lucky I’ve been to have the opportunity to work at home and stay at home with her. Not all parents that want to do this are able, and so at some level I feel selfish for feeling sad, because we have had much more time together than I first thought we would.
Still, I´m so sad to let this part go. I don´t want to believe that she is growing up. I don´t want to give away our lazy days, our fun days, and the days that we just spent in our pajamas building pillow tents on the living room floor.
I guess letting go is part of being a parent, though. And I do believe that with each step they take away from us, they grow more as a person; and in return, we do, too.
So I´ll wave goodbye and watch her disappear inside of her classroom, and then I´ll turn around and swallow that big ball of sadness that is filling the middle of my throat.
She´ll be fine. And in time, I will be, too.
(Good luck, sweet, sweet baby!)