For all the mommy bloggers lamenting their babies going to Kindergarten, I present you all with this – today my son turned 18. And 5 days ago he started his Senior Year of high school. I’ll be honest, I was more emotional when he started high school four years ago. I’ve read, with a bit of a smirk, the emotion filled blogs worrying about leaving their child at Kindergarten. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying they don’t have a point because Kindergarten is the first “let go” moment of many to come. But I’ve hit the rapid decline stage of “letting go” so I’m allowed to smirk a little.
One of the mommy bloggers was talking about how she “wasted” the first five years of her daughter’s life; why hadn’t she appreciated every trip to the coffee shop even if they ended in tantrums and how could she have blown through potty training so quickly without even blinking? I laugh. I laugh not because she doesn’t have a valid point but because she’s doing what I’ve been doing over the last four years. I’ve seen pre-K kids at stores and their exasperated parents just trying to get five minutes of tantrum free grocery shopping done and I would catch myself thinking “oh I miss those times.” And I’ve resisted the urge to tell them “enjoy it while you can,” because when people used to tell my former frustrated self that in a store I had to resist the urge to punch them.
The truth is, I don’t miss having to pack a baby bag filled with four outfit changes, 22 diapers, diaper rash cream, wet wipes, scented baggies for poopie diapers, bottles, pacifiers, back up pacifiers, toys that rattle, toys that don’t rattle, mini Tupperware bowls of Cheerios (sorry I’m showing my age I’m sure there is something newer and cooler than Tupperware), bibs, spit up rags, and a portable changing pad. I also don’t miss having to take 4 extra outfits in case potty training failed. I don’t miss Pull Ups. And I didn’t enjoy spending 20 minutes packing the car full of all of the above only to get the grocery store and have one child have a meltdown because the breeze was blowing the wrong way and the other one asking for every piece of gum and candy in site (that still hasn’t stopped by the way… yes both meltdowns and gum & candy … teenagers are a lot toddlers just slightly more eloquent).
To the first time Kindergarten moms and dads out there having emotional breakdowns let me explain that this is the first of many emotional breakdowns in your future. They may be starting Kindergarten now, but in just six short years they will be in Middle School. Ah yes, Middle School – those are years that will make you want to move to a remote island no one has heard of and live like the cast of Gilligan’s Island. And then just when you are breathing the sigh of relief that the jungle known as Middle School has ended you find yourself pulling into the High School parking lot – dodging teenage drivers and thinking to yourself “I’m not old enough to have a kid in High School.”
That was when my High School breakdown occurred. We went from his only social life was Xbox to suddenly he had friends who could drive and he would ride in cars with them after school to get snacks at the gas station before soccer practice started or late night runs to Taco Bell after games. He would go “hang out” with the guys at pizza places. And he needed nice clothes because wearing t-shirts and basketball shorts (the only thing he wore during Middle School) was suddenly not an option and now he’s somewhere between fashion icon and professional model (ugh… and sigh). Then there were girlfriends (see ugh … and sigh above). Yep that’s a fun roller coaster to ride on.
Honestly that was my last truly emotional moment; the day before his first day of high school when I pulled in the High School parking lot to pick him up from soccer. That’s when it truly hit me that I was on the downhill slide of milestone moments and I started to long for the days of YMCA soccer on Saturdays where the snack at the end was the best part of the game and for the days when homework was coloring a picture of your family and explaining who each person was.
Last Tuesday he let me snap a picture before he got in his car and drove to school and I went about my day and it wasn’t monumental that it was the last “first day of school” for him. No tears, no drama, just routine. I made a nice Flip-o-gram for his birthday today with pictures from Newborn to his Senior picture. I did have a slight moment because I couldn’t find his 3rd grade picture, but 3rd grade was in 2007 which was a bad year for our family and I don’t even remember if he had school pictures taken or if he did I apparently didn’t pay for them because I can’t find any. I had a bit of guilt trip over that but still no tears, no drama. I’m actually just looking forward to enjoying this year.
So for all you Kindergarten moms out there worrying and fretting that you should’ve cherished every one of those 1.57 million seconds of your child’s first five years – IT’S OK!! You have 13 more years of memories – good, bad and ugly – ahead of you. If you want to know what got me over the hump – I’ll tell you. When I would find myself feeling sad that he wasn’t that cute little six-year-old anymore, or getting frustrated over something he did and thinking oh wait I can’t be frustrated at him because I don’t have very many years left of him being home I would pause and remember there are still many things ahead to look forward to: College? Marriage? Grandkids? I can see myself at his wedding longing for the days he was starting High School. It’s just how a parent brain works. I mean there’s no guarantee on what’s coming up but certainly there will be milestones to celebrate.
Well there’s that and I bought a puppy.
Don’t judge my coping skills!
Which means in four years I’ll need another puppy……YIKES!