Going, growing, gone by child grower Annita Woz

caelsandalfeetrockwallEvery mom I talk with is worried about the food related aspects of the first day of Kindergarten.  Everything from the brain-filling breakfast fuel, the lunch line,  afternoon snack and of course whether to have fresh cookies and milk waiting on the counter at three o’clock so as to entice a full report of the day.  Food will be a bribe to get the goods on how many friends were made and whether the teacher is nice.

I’m not worried about the food. 

I’m worried about the rest of it.

All of it.

All of me, mine, gone.

I’ll never forget going to visit at recess when my first born was in school. I was mid sentence, near the monkey-bars I think, crouched down on one knee, looking into her green eyes and holding her little hand when the recess whistle blows. She slips her hand from mine, breaks eye-contact, turns mid-mommy-sentence and runs to the single-file line. She is listening to the teacher now, not mom.  

It is just how it is. If we do our job, our children know who to listen to and when, and they figure out the rules. They find ways to fit in to the academic world where they navigate the social norms and feed their minds.

While my youngest is off to K, and my other children are in their classrooms, and my husband is gone to work, I’ll be going, growing, gone, too.

Gone out of my mind, maybe,  but more likely I will be going to take a nap at nap time and finally get my cupboards cleaned out, even the one with the spilled molasses and the silverware drawer that needs sorting and a major scrubbing. Ask my sister Jane, she’ll tell you this is a milestone in parenting when a mom sends her youngest to Kindergarten and then prioritizes cleaning the cupboards because she knows that with all of her children IN SCHOOL she will now have time to get this chore done. 

I’ve met with many a mom over the years as she counts down the days till all of her brood will be back in school.   I realize I’ve always wanted summer to be endless.

I’ve had coffee with a mom who is back in school and proudly does her homework at night with her kids.  I realize that story problems still make me break out into a cold sweat but that I am also envious of the college students who get to return to fill their heads with new ideas.

I’ve had fruit smoothies with moms who started working out every morning when their youngest went into Kindergarten.  They also claim to burn off calories by organizing classroom parties and coordinating fundraisers.   I realize I regret that I didn’t view flying around a plastic Batman as the ultimate physical (and mental!) exercise.

My friends, my family, even completely exhausted strangers, wise women all, have- over the last ten years- warned me, sometimes with a finger wag, sometimes with an odd smile and a sigh, they have warned me with the words, “They grow up so fast.”   I did not listen very well.  I guess, I did not live in the moment enough, did not believe the speed of childhood in the grand scheme of parenting.  I also realize that I have just become some one who will inflict this knowledge on another unsuspecting mother- and she will not listen, either.

Across the nation, about the time that the reading lesson begins in the kindergarten classrooms, moms everywhere, (and some dads too, I suppose) will be assessing new options,  repeating to herself, over and over in her head or writing it in her journal,  making a plan like  “Now, I’m going to go to work part-time and do something I love.” 

Over steaming mugs of coffee, another mom is saying to her good friend, “I’m going to continue staying at home where I’m going to actually practice yoga not just do yoga.”

Or some moms will silently hide in a wadded up kleenex,  with shaking shoulders and a runny nose,  this mom is going to cry the entire day.  Then she’s going to call all her girlfriends and have them over for Kringle and a donut chaser.  

 From the silence, come the words echoing in an empty house, “My youngest is in school now so I’m going to just take a year and see if I can remember who I am,”  it says, this little voice that hasn’t spoken in years.  

That last one is me,  being very honest with myself. 

I have my youngest going to K this fall and while I’m on this cliff of opportunity, I’m not sure I am meeting all the criteria to graduate from my real-life parenting classroom.  Can somebody just give me an F and make me repeat this last summer?

### foar ChildGrower blog, Sept. 2, 2009 by Annita Woz.

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2 Responses

  1. Oh Annita, I do remember those days! When my youngest began kindergarten in Wisconsin, (we had just moved there) I could hear her crying INSIDE the room at which point I burst into tears OUTSIDE the door and I’ll never forget the principal’s quizzical look.

    One mom introduced herself and we went out for coffee to commiserate and subsequently became best friends.

    I was still crying when my kids left for college…and give plenty of sympathy to my daughters when THEY call, in tears, having taken their little chaps to that first day of school.

    That WINGS part of growing children is tough!

  2. Thanks for this. It is so true that things are tough, but thankfully, not every day is one of these bittersweet adventures. He is liking school and I’m not taking my empty house for granted, in fact, to keep busy I emptied out a few closets, the car, the basement storage area and under the kitchen sink…I seem to have this need to take everything to the extreme this week!

    My emotions are all over the place and I think I’m ok with that. I’m supposed to be feeling this or else I’m afraid I won’t remember and cherish it, right?

    Have a great LONG weekend….

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