N starts preschool in September.
I've ordered labels for his clothing. We've debated the merits of a Cars lunchbox vs. one with Superman on it. I've signed the waivers and paid the tuition and added our names to the parent directory. This week, he "graduated" from Mommy & Me, complete with cupcakes and songs and some nostalgic tears (mine) about the two and a half years we've spend playing blocks and having snacks in the same primary-colored classroom.
It still seems not at all possible that this is really happening.
He's in denial. I'm in denial. When I ask him if he's ready to start big kid school in the fall, he answers with a resounding NO.
"No school," he says with an emphatic shake of his blond curls. "I stay home with YOU."
I've tried to convince him how much fun preschool is going to be, but really all I want to do is agree with him. He's grown up way too fast, my sweet baby boy, and lately he's had too little of my time and attention. Since starting my "real" job in May, being home with him only part time feels like such a difference--and a loss--than the 24/7 time I spent with his big sister at the same age.
Trying to balance everything has been next to impossible...the running to-do list in my head is slowly driving me to the brink of insanity, and sometimes I long for just ten minutes where there isn't anything I'm supposed to be doing, or anywhere I'm supposed to be. I feel incredibly grateful that of all my jobs--author, editor, wife, parent--being "Mommy" is still far and away my favorite. I'd rather be with E & N than anywhere, and that makes this challenging time easier.
So...preschool. The time when I was "supposed" to go back to work, which should mean that when N does start I'll feel less guilty about the time I spend away from him, since he'll be happily engaged somewhere where he's safe and loved. Still, every time I look at him...his crinkly, mischievous blue eyes, his impossible blond curls, his determined stride as he takes on the world with his hand in mine...I already miss him and these "baby" days that slip away so fast.
My summer Fridays with N have been the antidote to my growing sadness about saying goodbye to the end of the toddler era. We wake up and get dressed and eat breakfast and take E to camp. Then it's just my boy and me, with a few precious hours alone.
Whether we like it or not, N will start preschool in the fall. I will feel less guilty about working, and he will have a whole new world all his own to explore. We'll pick a lunchbox. I'll label his shoes. We'll probably both cry, a little or maybe a lot. It will be good for us. We will learn, both of us, to embrace change instead of fearing it. The circle will continue. (And then, someday, he'll graduate and move on to kindergarten just like his big sister...and then I'll REALLY lose it...)
Until then, we have the blessing of summer Fridays. And I'm grateful.
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