When my youngest was born 5 years ago, I felt like it would be an eternity before he went to Kindergarten. Despite the fact that we are red-shirting him to give him an extra year at home, it feels like he was just born yesterday. Some of the days, weeks, and months challenged us more than we thought we could handle, but now that we are on the other side of the intensity of infancy and toddlerhood, I look back with such fondness. I do wish I could forget the heaviness I felt through my son’s chronic ear infections, food intolerances, lack of weight gain, chronic reflux, toddler meltdowns, pre-school meltdowns, and mommy meltdowns, but, they all seem a little less significant.
This final semester of having a child at home before he enters Kindergarten makes me have all the feelings. I remember longing for the time at home by myself during the throes of our toddler days. That “light at the end of the tunnel” provided me much hope in the darkest of toddler days, but now that we’re nearing the end, I’m feeling the need to slam on the brakes and take our final months at a slower pace so we don’t miss a thing.
Since I work outside of the home 4 days a week, on my day off my preschooler and I have to run all the errands, but I make sure I plan margin for spontaneity. Spontaneity isn’t exactly my forte, but when we are running errands, I try to watch for opportunities to stop and have a moment. In our moments, we are creating some memories. We have had the chance to watch the Fountains dance downtown, go barefoot on an urban beach, sample every single sample at Costco, and look over ALL THE LEGOS while at Target.
I get a little choked up when my son reaches for my hand every day as we walk into pre-school. I feel the days are numbered for his outward expressions and lack of awareness of “what the big kids do.” I revel in the time as we drive to daycare. We talk about his expectations for the day and daydream about what the snack might be. He still joyously lets me kiss him goodbye in the mornings, and asks for “just one more hug” at bedtime.
Since these days soon will be a distant memory, I have the tendency to feel like if I don’t photograph it, I won’t remember it. However, I have come to the realization that life is bigger than my 6-inch phone screen. I don’t want to watch these experiences through my viewfinder, when I would miss what happens outside of the screen! I don’t want to forget all the quality time and experiences we are having, so I have chosen to keep my camera phone in my back pocket most of the time. I usually snap a quick picture, but I’m far less interested in making sure I have the perfect one, instead I’m satisfied with the one that quickly best represents our actual experience, not a crafted for Instagram moment.
I have been assured by moms who have gone before, that while these preschool moments are some of the best days they had with their children, there are new experiences that await, that will bring fondness and gratitude. Until we have those experiences, we are going to continue to savor each day to make as many memories before he goes to school. I know I will anxiously await the stories from BOTH of my boys as they continue to grow, and make me so proud to be their mother.