In 11 days my youngest will start kindergarten. I suppose this is where I should write about how bittersweet it is, how sad I am to no longer have little ones at home and to end this phase of our lives. And all of that is true. But mostly, this momma is excited. Yep, I said it. I am ex-ci-ted!
For almost nine years I’ve had a little one at home with me on my days off and yes, it has been a blessing. It truly has. There will be moments I miss having my boys at home with me, just like there are moments I am overcome with wanting to hold a newborn on my shoulder again, or experience the bliss of a smiling toddler barreling into my arms after we’ve been apart.
But mostly I am eagerly anticipating what it will be like to have a day off and be home all by myself. Oh, the things I’ll do! Namely cross things off my to-do list during the day instead of at night when the kids are in sleeping. It’s going to be awesome!
My future kindergartener isn’t sharing my enthusiasm, however. He was excited…until about a week ago and reality set in. This week has been the week of tears, of clinging to Momma, of snuggling his stuffed moose when the feelings get too big.
And that’s just how life is sometimes. Change happens and it’s hard and we have to muck our way through it.
We’re doing all of the right things. We’ve attended the back-to-school events, taken a practice bus ride, and met his new babysitter. We’ve visited the school. We’ve looked in his big brother’s yearbook for a picture of the kindergarten teacher, the principal, the vice principal, putting faces with the names. We’ve read books about kindergarten and met friends who will be in his class. We’ve tried to prepare him without making it such a big deal that it freaks him out.
But still, my boy is sad. Just sad. He is sad to say good-bye to the teachers and friends and familiarity of a preschool he has attended for the past three years. Sad to let that go for something unknown. And who can blame him?
So this week has been a week of snuggling. A week of empathizing and telling him, “It’s okay. Of course you’re sad. Good-byes make me sad too.” A week of reminding him his big brother was so sad when we moved near the end of his first grade year, but he isn’t sad now, because it gets easier. A week of not trying to fix anything, just being there beside him.
Because these are gifts we can give our children:
Letting them know change can be hard and good-byes are sad and that is part of life.
Teaching them that hard feelings aren’t something we need to fix or run away from.
Giving them the space to feel what they need to feel and find their way to the other end.
My boy is a sensitive kid. Until recently he was really excited about kindergarten, so this sadness took me a little by surprise. But I know he’ll be okay. It may take a little while, but it will get easier. And that is a valuable lesson too.