{closing a chapter}

I never thought I would decide to send my oldest daughter to T-K. I found myself in a predicament last November and decided to look into the schools around to see if there were any openings for her to start. Between the appointments and therapies, I wasn’t finding the time I wanted to pour into my oldest and felt it was time to see what other options there were.

I had big dreams of starting a preschool curriculum with her at home at the start of the year. I had collected various workbooks and supplies to begin in September. I thought it could be our way of giving homeschool a try without fully committing. In my head I thought “It’s only preschool, can I really mess that up?”

The answer to that is NO, but, I was finding that I wasn’t able to fully engage with her when I wanted to. I didn’t have the mind capacity to sit with her, reading directions and explaining things to her. I had done my best to teach her letters and numbers, but I was finding that in the season we were facing with Bernadette, I was not able to dedicate as much time to preschool as I wanted. And frankly, she was bored.

She is a go-getter, an extravert, and real self-starter, all in the best of ways. I know that these are qualities you can’t just teach someone. They are born into them. I see her firstborn tendencies and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God has big things planned for her life.

As her mom, I was finding that I wasn’t able to challenge her enough in the ways she needed. She needed someone who would sit there with her to help her read. Who would be dedicated to her academically, who perhaps did not have all the things I did and currently do vying for her time, taking it away from teaching this youthful mind.

Of course I can feel guilt if I really sit there and think about too much. I would love to say that I am the do everything and be everything mom to everyone. But I’m not and I am admitting that and owning it, well, trying to anyway.

A dear friend of mine encouraged me that my oldest was definitely ready for school when I brought it up to her back in November. I trust her and deeply value her opinion. She knows me well, she knows our life circumstances and she knows my oldest. She also is a teacher herself and has taught many a youthful minds over the years. I knew that if she, with her perspective and knowledge she has, thought my daughter was ready, I was willing to give it a try.

I teared up a little on that first day of school but went into it feeling confident. I knew that she was ready for the challenge, she was ready for the friends, and she was ready for the independence, something I wasn’t fully ready for but then again is any mom really ready for that? Maybe, but in my mind I didn’t think I was.

She soared through school. She even complained of boredom in the very beginning. To which I thought perhaps I had made a mistake and maybe should have waited until Kindergarten. But eventually, she complained less of boredom and started bringing home schoolwork and showing me the various projects she was working on in class.

Her rundown of the day on our way home always consisted of her friends in the class and what they did during lunch and recess and seldom was about what was happening in class. Being the social butterfly she is, that did not surprise me in the least. I loved watching her face light up about her new friends.

I knew by how quickly she completed the weekly homework she doing fine in school. She did from time to time share bits and pieces of different stories they had read and activities she had participated in. All of which continued to help me feel more and more confident in our decision to send her.

I would have never anticipated the year flying by as quickly as it did though. Open house was just a few short weeks ago. Walking into her classroom and seeing her excitement as she buzzed from place to place in the room showing David and I all the things they were learning in school. It melted me. It was the first time since she started school that I couldn’t hold my emotions into myself. She looked like such a different kid seeing her in a different element. It hurt my heart a little as it seemed as if I was watching her grow up before my very eyes and I began wondering who this kid really is.

That night, I cried to David after the girls were all in bed. I missed so much of her the past couple of years. Time I will never get back with her. Time that slipped through my fingertips, one sandy grain at a time.

It’s no ones fault it happened that way. It was purely due to circumstances far above and beyond my own control. But it hit me that night in particular that this was one of the things I wished I could have gotten back.

That brings to me this week. Her end of school party is where it really started. Not knowing what to expect, I went into it naively as the parents all gathered in the back of the classroom. The kids started singing a song about moving on to kindergarten. That’s when the tears really started forming and haven’t quite stopped since.

Certificates happened next as if I wasn’t already emotional watching their song, but then the teacher had to pass out certificates! Memory books followed and more songs. Lunch is finally when I had to cut out. My heart couldn’t take it anymore.

The next day was the last day. I dropped her off that morning already a mess. Picking her up was worse as she hugged the best teacher possible for this year in our lives. Her teacher’s eyes were red, no doubt from saying goodbye to all of these kids she has been pouring into for the past year. I don’t even know how these wonderful teachers have it in them to do what they do! Any of it!

I looked at her teacher, a million things racing through my mind. The grace she has shown me throughout the past several months as my life has been in complete chaos. The outpouring on my daughter. The anecdotes she shares with me that I would have missed out on completely had she not pulled me aside to share them.

The walk home it hit me. We are closing a chapter in our lives this summer. The one where my oldest is just a baby. Of course she is five so she’s not a “baby” but she’s been so little in my mind up until now. In the fall, I send her off to kindergarten. She’s officially school age and the time at home with her is now a memory, one that will continue to grow more and more distant.

I never thought I would feel the emotions like I did on her last day of school. Never. But, oh how I am thankful for them. It’s all kinds of hard and sad and good at the same time, this whole watching babies grow up thing. Oh my heart!

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