Wednesday, August 20, 2014

New First Steps

Theoretically, it should have been easy. I never stopped working, which means that for the last five years my little girl has been attending some kind daycare situation. We had a wonderful first three months together (thanks to my perfectly timed April delivery which extended my maternity leave into the summer months) and then she was off to a wonderful in-home daycare. Because of moves and circumstances beyond our control, she has moved around some, but for the last two years (her preschool years) she has been attending the same daycare as her little brother. I have dropped her off in the morning for a day of learning, snacks, and play. And then during the summer months she has been at home with me.

Everything changed today. Today my baby girl started Kindergarten. I remember when I started Kindergarten 30 years ago. That was back when a half day of school was the standard. I started school with a couple of my preschool classmates and my childhood best friend was a little girl who I also went to church with. I had a small group of ready made friends but quickly made more. We spent our mornings learning things that my daughter was learning to do in preschool. My afternoons were free. But it was still the start of my academic career. By the time the year was over I could read and do simple math and thanks to the wonderful teachers at our inner city Detroit Lutheran school, I had a strong foundation for later, weaker years of education. I was loved by my teachers and they daily shared both knowledge and the love of Christ. But it was me. I was the one growing up, not my little girl. I was the one looking forward to my future and the world that was opening up in front of me, not my little girl.

I am excited to see my little girl grow up. I am excited to see what God has in store for her. I am excited to see her grow and mature in knowledge and faith. I am excited to see her excitement when she reads her very first chapter book on her own or to read the very first story that she writes on her own without me spelling every single word out for her. I am excited to watch her school plays and concerts. I am excited to see her learn new things about the world around her in both science and social studies. I am excited to see the relationships she will build with her new classmates. But I'm also sad. I am sad because this is a new first step into more independence. As parents we walk this fine line of eagerly waiting for the day that our children do not need us to do certain things for them (i.e. change their diapers, spoon feed them, tie shoes, dress them) and sadness when they reach those milestones and they need us less. I know that we never stop needing our parents. Even as adults we never stop needing our parents. But those needs change and become less frequent, less pressing.

And then there is the realization that this change is also a change in my responsibilities as a parent and that scares me. I am seriously afraid that I am going to become the parent that drives me, the teacher, crazy. When she was in preschool I couldn't remember to sign permission forms and turn in book orders on time. During registration two days ago there was so much paperwork that I was overwhelmed. How was I going to keep everything straight? I have to remember lunch (which was always covered by daycare), have to get her up in time to eat some breakfast (which has proven to be a difficult task since she was born), have to help with homework and make sure that she is given the time to do it, and have to figure out drop off and pick up at two different locations for two years while we wait for our son to enter Kindergarten. And that is just the stuff that I know about. We are entering the unknown and it is just as scary for Mommy as it is for daughter. Possibly more so.

I know that she will be fine. Just like me, she has a little girl in her class who she went to preschool with and they were thrilled to be reunited during registration. Maybe she will become my daughter's childhood best friend. My baby girl is a sweet, smart, and talented little girl who will thrive. But that doesn't change the fact that this is much harder than I anticipated it would be five years ago. So for now I will pray for her, as I did last night when I was running around the block. And today I will be thankful that her little brother still has two more years of early childhood. We'll just drag that one out for as long as we can.

Here I am on the first day of Kindergarten in 1984.
Here is my daughter on the first day of school in 2014.

1 comment:

  1. Awww. Take it from this (former) Kindergarten teacher, you're not the only parent feeling this way! Love the pictures, too!