I am getting ready to send my youngest child to kindergarten. As the simpler preschool days are drawing to a close, I have become very reflective of where we’ve been, and anticipating where we’re headed. It’s fairly easy to over-romanticize the beginning years, however, I have found myself reminiscing about the early years with so much fondness, that my heart physically hurts.
When I think about the long days and even longer nights of early infancy, they seem a little less distressing now than they used to when I consider the constant sweet snuggles and tender moments that only I shared with my sweet baby as we rocked and nursed to sleep. I can remember with such freshness the realization that my heart was beating outside of my body inside of my son. The extreme sense of responsibility I felt bringing both of my babies home from the hospital are never far from my thoughts. As my memories of days gone by begin to shift from the earliest years, I remember the antics of the newly mobile not yet 1-year-old that never left my side. Those days were exasperating when I couldn’t even go to the bathroom without little fingers reaching under the door. However, now, those exasperating days are a little more precious when I realized that my sweet baby never wanted to leave my side because he thought I was the center of the universe. Those days turned into the busy, busy toddler time, with their unpredictable personalities and endless energy but, they eventually gave way to the most fun memories that included exploring everywhere we went with such wonder and joy. Those squishy, silly toddler days were the absolute BEST! When the preschool years came, they were filled with finicky and demanding preschool moments. There was many a meltdown for both my sons and myself. However, as time is passing, the meltdown moments have started to turn into funny stories and teachable moments.
Some of these stages have felt more like endurance challenges than joy-filled experiences, however, I have come to realize there is power in both the highs and lows of parenting. My heartbeat quickens when I remember the scary birth, health challenges, and never-ending biting stage of my soon-to-be Kindergartner, but those struggles have helped shape both him and me. I have learned to be present and appreciate the moments we are given, even if they are challenging.
The important “firsts” of words, walking, and wondering, have now transitioned to the “firsts” of reading, writing, and arithmetic. My son is getting excited about heading off to school with big brother as he anticipates the benefits to growing older. I’m choosing to treasure my memories from his preschool years, grieve a little that these days are behind us, but draw strength from the challenges that we have overcome in the hopes that they are preparing us for the challenges that are yet to come. Our future challenges are somewhat unknown…we are tumbling head first into the world of standardized tests, Accelerated Reading, school fundraisers, school projects, and homework and have no idea how to handle it. So as I prepare to take my last very “First Day of Kindergarten” picture, I think about the joy of starting over and making new friends, teachers, and routines. We both are growing up a little. He is growing in his potential and becoming brave, and I can’t wait to see him flourish. I’m growing in my motherhood confidence. We can do hard things, and come out stronger on the other side.