Tis the season. Parents all over the world rejoice as they happily pose their kiddos on the front porch, force them to smile for a photo, send them off onto the bus and have a party (or just enjoy that foreign sound of SILENCE!)
I get it. And someday I’m sure I’ll do the same. BUT, for now the thought of sending Avery to school is overwhelming at best. This fall we start preschool, something I debated even doing considering it’s more expensive than my college tuition. And I’m pretty sure if I just got two other families and we paid a full salary to a random teacher to come to us, it would be WAY cheaper. But alas, in three short weeks I will drop Avery off at preschool.
Now, to be honest…it’s time. He’s ready. I’m ready. We are ready. (Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself.)
He has been going to a drop off program for a couple of hours twice a week for the past year and he loves it. It’s the only time he and I have been apart in three years aside from the occasional babysitter. I have to practically beg him to give me a hug goodbye, and if he sees me there before he’s “done” he gives me a teenager-esque look of frustration/embarrassment and says “Mommy, It’s not time yet!” It’s really quite embarrassing.
At first I took it personally and was a bit upset that he wasn’t the clingy, hysterical kid (or at least the slightest bit sad to see me go). But then, I realized that it was because he was so secure, well-attached and knew that “mommy always always always comes back” (a phrase that has been repeated over and over any time I have left him since birth.) Also, he LOVES the teachers and a couple of his besties from mommy and me go there too.
Ever since we went to the open house at his preschool, he’s been talking about how when he’s bigger he gets to go to a new school all by himself. He seems to be super excited. And even though I know that he is a strong, well-adjusted, VERY independent little boy…I still am nervous. A new place. New kids. New teachers. It’s a lot of NEW.
And not just new for him, new for me as well. At his drop-off program we had been taking him to mommy and me classes there for over a year before I left him alone there. I knew the place, the teachers, the staff. It was safe and happy. The other families were great. The kids were sweet. He and I both knew it was a great place to be.
While we were super selective in looking at preschools, and we only applied to two, at the end of the day, it’s still a relative unknown. I don’t know the teachers. I don’t know any of the other families. I don’t know any of his new class mates. And that is scary.
Twice a month I’ll be able to come into the classroom and hang out, observe, be a part of his experience, and I’m sure I will cherish those days and be insanely grateful that we chose a school with strong parent involvement. But it doesn’t completely change the fact that it’s my first step in learning to truly “let go” and allow Avery to have some freedom, a place that is “his”, an environment to write his own story in.
In a couple of weeks, I will reluctantly step aside, a little bit…and I will be sad about it. But I will also relish in the fleeting moments to myself and the GIANT grin on his face when he sees me at pick-up. I will live for the way his little eyes search the crowd of mommies and daddies until he finds me. My heart will soar when his eyes meet mine and his face lights up as he runs over with artwork in hand proud of his work that day. I will eagerly await the way he tells me all about what he learned and played that day.
This year it’s preschool. In a couple of years it will be kindergarten. Then middle school. Then high school. Then college (where I will likely uproot and follow him.) With each big change I will want to hold on tighter as I let go more. I will want to keep him closer as he gets more independent.
I know that during his “transition” I will likely be the mom who needs gentle encouragement to LEAVE because he is doing just fine. I know that he will probably run off the first day excited about this new place and new people. I know that he is like me, fearless, adventurous, in love with new experiences and new challenges. But I also know that I will never be truly ok letting him go. No matter how big he gets, I will always want to be the first one to pick him up when he falls. I will always want to be the one that kisses his boo boos. I will want to be the one that helps him navigate friendships. I will want to be the one to see him succeed at a new skill, fail miserably and try again. I will want to be there ALWAYS.