It is the end of an era. It went much faster than anticipated. I feel the door slowly closing on this age of preschool now that my oldest is going to all-day-kindergarten this fall. While I was tucking him in last night I looked over at the calendar by his bed and gasped, “Only a few more weeks, and you’ll be an official school boy.”
He wiggled with excitement, the anticipation burbling out of him. I keep rehearsing the first drop-off. I’ve made arrangements for my mom to watch the younger two, so that I can relish in the moment. Lately I have been finding myself telling my oldest, “You were my first baby. You taught me everything I know about being a mom.”
“Buy why was I your first baby?”
“You made a good one.”
“Why did I teach you how to be a mommy?”
“Because before I had you I didn’t know how to feed a baby, change a baby’s diapers, get a baby to sleep, calm a baby down......”
I still remember my first Mommy and Me class at the Newberg Hospital. I thought I was doing so well. I went when he was only two-weeks-old. The other new moms gasped when I shared how old my newborn was. I thought they were impressed, now I know they thought I was crazy. And I was because only about 30 minutes into our circle time my new son started to cry. I was so embarrassed. I tried the pacifier. Nope. I tried rocking him. Nope. Breast feed? I was too much of a novice to do that confidently in public. I had to leave. I rushed out of the hospital with my little boy in his infant carrier screaming as I cautiously, totally paranoid, maneuvered the westbound curves of 99W. I’m pretty sure you can drive those curves going at least 5 mph. I pulled into our driveway and collapsed onto the couch exhausted. It took me a while to realize my first baby had actually stopped crying---fallen asleep.
Now I don’t even notice when a baby cries, mine or others. It is just background noise. When our final son arrived nearly 18 months ago, I finally had the confidence to nurse when needed in public and to do so with tact and privacy. This is the true mark of a veteran mom---at least for me. (Something that was good at the time, but I am happy to never have to do again.)
I can reach back and touch those first moments of motherhood so easily, and that is why I know I will be an emotional wreck the day after Labor Day when I drive my oldest to school. I’m excited for him, but sad for me---the one he’s leaving behind. I will now be relying on my oldest to let me into his world, his day. I’m depending on my son to talk to me, tell me who he is playing with, who he likes, who’s mean to him, what he’s good at in school, and when he needs help.
I’ve scheduled a day for just us to go school shopping. We’ve made our list. I have grand plans of this new annual tradition being very special---I hope I haven’t built it up too much. I imagine that first-day-of-school-picture that we will take on the front porch---you know, the porch no one ever uses, but remains sacred for this documented, picture occasion. We will pose here for the next 12 years, or at least until he stops wanting to in about the 6th grade: new shoes, pants, shirt, jacket, and backpack. I can visualize my son’s distinct smile, consistent through the progression of elementary, middle, and finally high school. He already has plans on attending college, since that is when he will finally be able to take his mechanical engineering classes. He informed me that since his brain works so well, he’s going in to engineering. (Always good to start out with that much confidence.)
I can’t believe this day has arrived, this very first day of school. This is it. We did it. I got him this far: he got me this far. We are both jumping into a pool with smiles, but eyes shut...not sure of how it’ll feel when we splash into the water, yet pretty sure it’ll be good.
I’m going to need to drive extra slow on my solo drive back to the house after dropping my oldest off in September, about as slow as I drove home from that first class at the hospital. I need enough time to get all my tears out before my other two sons greet me at the backdoor with vim and vigor.