their last day. my last one.

16Jun11

Today was the day before the last day.  Tomorrow is the end of the school year. Tomorrow afternoon I will have three kids in elementary school.

Three.

Eight weeks from now I’ll be gearing up for the beginning of the new school year. Fifth grade?  Second grade? Kindergarten?  Bring it.  I love beginnings.

Preschool ending?  Forever?  I’m not so good with it.  Maybe I’m feeling nostalgic. Perhaps it is guilt because I’ve wished so many of these hours and days to go by faster.  I can’t put my finger on it but I know that I’m not OK.

Recently, #3’s taken to reminding me of all the things that I forget.  I forget lunches, I forget to change the laundry, I forget my purse.  I overheard her explaining to her girlfriend that I’m a “forgetty” mom.  She may be right – I do spend a lot of time backtracking and re-doing things.  For the better part of five years I’ve been waiting for #3 to stop hanging on me, to go to school without crying, to be out of the house for seven hours a day. When she starts school, I won’t have anyone around to judge my forgetfulness.  I won’t have to explain myself.  That’s good, right?

Year 1: First "Friday"

Tonight I am remembering #3’s first day of preschool – the beginning.   She was tearful.  She wanted to be brave but she was only one. She cried.  But her tears were lost on me – she was my third.  I was tired.  I wanted to be free, to let someone else hold her for a few hours.  I walked away.  It was the right thing to do (or so I’ve told myself) because I knew she’d be fine.  I’d spent hours sitting in the same room with the two older girls that had come before her.  I’d coddled them. Reassured them.  But with #3,  I walked out.  I hesitated outside the door and listened but I didn’t wait until she stopped.  I left.  For one year, one day a week, I spent three hours alone.  And every Friday when I returned she ran into my arms and I loved the moment when we came back together again.  I was renewed and optimistic.  A better mom for the break I’d had.  The one I deserved needed.

Year 2: First day drop off

When she was two we raised the bar and sent her two mornings a week for three hours.  The math here isn’t complicated; it was six hours a week.  But, it was another step towards finding my sanity, crawling out of my depression and creating some healthy boundaries.  Out of all of my daughters, #3 is the sweetest and the neediest. The six daytime hours when my legs where not locked down with her fingers and arms wrapped around me were rejuvenating.  We made it through the short year and, nine months after she started, #3 sat on my lap and we watched her big sister graduate.  In August, I would pull into the preschool parking lot with #3 and drop her off alone.

Year 3: First day of school with no siblings!

Then it grew quiet.  We, #3 and I, fell into a comfortable pattern of walking to the bus stop and walking home.  Two were gone and we fell in love with our morning runs, breakfast and coffee (she’s one hell of a barista!) before school. The third year of preschool for #3 I gained nine hours of solitude.  She gained an attitude; she was sassy and stubborn and sweet.  She wanted me and needed them [read: school] so we struggled between wanting to hold on to legs and learning, instead, how to hold hands.  As the year progressed, the biggest issue became not having enough time at school. She wanted to go everyday like her sisters and the 25 other kids at the bus stop in the morning.  I reassured her that she only had one more year; I promised her that she’d be off like the big girls soon.

Year 4: First day of the final kindergarten countdown

Last September #3 was four.  She started her last year of preschool with gleeful anticipation.  For the record, she still clung to my hand from time to time, but she’d “arrived.”  She had friends, a carpool, lunchdates, playdates and, from time to time, we squeezed in a mommy date.

Tomorrow, it’s over.  I will drop off my baby at nine, a preschooler, and four hours later I will pick up a kindergartener.

I’m overwhelmed (maybe it’s PMS since I’m also eating chocolate peanut butter ice cream?). I am ready for them to grow up.  I want them too.  I’ve talked so much about needing and wanting some space and time for myself that I’ve convinced myself this growing up gig was all good.  Tonight, I’m not so sure.

#3 is only five.  She’s not going anywhere anytime soon.  But, she’s going. . .

They are all going.  And the end of preschool marks the end of idol worship; I’m more of a mom than a mommy.  It marks the end of unstructured anything; it’s all about the structure from this point forward.  It is the end of little feet and pitter-patter and all the other noises that make me feel at home.

I hope that #3 still holds my hand next year when she walks up to her classroom.  I wonder if she will look at me with tears in her eyes and a quivering lip.  I hope she holds her head high and runs in to her new world without looking back. If she does, I’ll be smiling and waving and walking away.  She can handle it.

But tomorrow? I’ll be holding her hand tight.  My lips are already quivering, my eyes brimming with tears.

This is one moment I’m not soon to forget.

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15 Responses to “their last day. my last one.”

  1. 1 Jessica

    You are writing what many of us are feeling. Now I’m complaining that time is going by way too fast. I can’t seem to find a way to slow the calender or the growth of my girls.
    More….

  2. 3 Jennifer

    I love your honesty and emotion, Amy. I have goosebumps now, and I’m not even a mom, so I have yet to experience the complexity of the mother-daughter relationship from the other point of view. Thank you for sharing!

  3. 5 Jenise

    Elliana is now a Middle Schooler. No more Ogden Elementary. I am in denial still. Didn’t she just start Kindergarten?

  4. 7 Jennifer

    Here is a quote I keep on my bookshelf:
    “There are only two lasting bequests we can home to give our children. One is roots, the other, wings.”
    ~Hodding Carter

  5. 8 Jennifer

    Great post, I feel the same way. I find now that they are older they “need” us a little more but the the approach is subtle & the conversations are just incredible!! As long as they don’t lose their great imaginations, they will still keep part of that sweet little 3 year old. I love summer with them, this reminds me to appreciate it even when they bicker :)!!

    • Ahh- you are so right. The conversations are FUN. And never-ending, no? Thanks for sharing the quote. I think I’ll put it up on the bulletin board to remind me too.

  6. You moved me to tears! Excellent post. I’m a big mushball on first and last days of school (and everything in between), so I can feel you!

  7. 12 Lauri

    What a great way to inspire summer, appreciating the minutes I have with (all of) them while they are small. Good luck today, sending you happy thoughts.

  8. 13 Beth

    I will never complain about 1am, 2am, 3am, 4am, or 5am wake ups with Miranda again! I will however, continue to be excited about Tessa in preschool 3 days a week next year…
    Great post. It goes by so fast. Our girls seem so close in age while they are young, but it occurred to me the other day that Abbey could be married with kids while Miranda is still in high school! Hopefully not while she is still in middle school. 🙂

  9. 14 Betha Knight

    Great story. I hope the “send off” gets esier for you, but I now what you mean. Today is Fields’ last day of kindergarten and is so excited to be a big first grader! me ? not so much… the innocence is started to dwindle ( slowly, but it is there!) Hope you have a great summer! betha


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