It happened. We hit a major milestone last week and we all survived.
I’ll admit, the night before as I was brushing my teeth I internally panicked and all of those questions came flooding into my mind:
Are we doing the right thing?
Is she ready?
Will she make friends?
What if someone is mean to her?
Does she know how much I love her?
Will she be happy?
Will she have enough time to eat her lunch?
I tiptoed back into her room and laid myself down on her bed. I smelled her hair. I stroked her cheek. I tucked her curly blonde hair behind her ear. I held her hand. I smiled when she instinctively wrapped her fingers around mine during her sleepy slumber, just as she did when she was a baby. My mind flooded back to those first few days, weeks, months of her life. She came 4 weeks early and she spent a lot of her evenings screaming. Screaming at me. Screaming at Brian. She cried, I cried. We all cried. Brian and I spent a majority of our evenings in her bathroom because it had the best vent fan, ever. EVER. We would take turns, standing in the dark bathroom, with the vent fan running, holding her little swaddled burrito body tight to us while practicing the 5 S’s. Swaddle, Shush, Sway, Side laying, and sucking…. eh, I guess we practiced the 4 S’s since she hated all things pacifiers and bottles. I remember those days seemed long and I wished for time to speed up because it was exhausting. But everyone told us, “It goes so fast! Just enjoy it.”
“Just enjoy it.”
So your saying I’m supposed to enjoy the fact that she screams at me all evening long? How about the fact that I feel like a human pacifier? And the sleepless nights during those milestone moments? The teething? The ear infections? The sickness? I’m supposed to enjoy that? You’re joking right? But they weren’t. And I wasn’t getting it. But I do now.
Enjoy the chaos, the sleepless nights, the teething, the sickness (because with sickness comes cuddles). Enjoy the moments of rocking her to sleep. Her sleepy little head on my chest. When she would bring a book, sit on my lap, and point to those animals while making their respective noises.
Enjoy the meltdowns. The struggles over what to eat and making the same damn thing for lunch every single day. Enjoy the independence she shows around the age of 2. The smiles, the giggles, how one day she just starts talking in full sentences and you had no idea she even knew what the word exasperated meant let alone how to use it (correctly) in a sentence.
She is resilient this one. We moved from Iowa to Chicago when she was around 22 months old. She started a new daycare. New faces, new names, new home, new routine, new everything. She did beautifully. She was happy, she made friends. And then at the age of 4, we blew her little world up again. Another move. Another state. Far, far away from family and our friends. It would be ok, we said! We are moving to the mountains! She had no idea what freaking mountains were. But we made them seem really exciting. You’ll love it, we told her! And she does. Again, a new daycare, new faces, new names, new home, new routine, new time zone, and the biggest of all, starting kindergarten.
It’s midnight, the day of kindergarten and I am tossing and turning in bed. I get up and check on her. Watching her. Hoping, praying that her first day goes well and that she ends up loving school. I settle back into bed but lay there wide awake because sleep isn’t coming as easy tonight.
Will she be scared?
Will she cry?
Will I cry?
Is her teacher going to be nice?
Earlier that night I packed her first lunch. Ham sandwich, chips, fruit, carrots, water. Should I put a note in I wondered? Um, no. She couldn’t even read it.
My alarm clock went off at 6:15a. I rolled over and at the same time all the butterflies in my belly woke up. I quickly got ready and walked into her room. She was still sleeping soundly. I laid in her bed and started to slowly wake her. I looked around her room and spotted her first day of school outfit. A dress of course.
She woke up excited for her new day. She got dressed, ate breakfast, I took about 100 pictures while Brian took Brady to daycare and then the time came for us to walk her to school. We each took turns holding her hand. She walked in front of me, holding her daddy’s hand, while her backpack bounced with every step she took. Her backpack seemed so big on her. We told her how proud we were of her, how much we loved her, and how much we hoped she enjoyed her first day. We told her that no matter what, it was important to be kind to others, even if they aren’t kind to you.
The walk to school is quick, 7 minutes if your timing it. We got there early, trying to avoid the rush of students that started the day before and the kindergarteners that were arriving with their parents for their first day.
I glanced up and quickly made eye contact with another mom. We smiled at each other, both reading the thoughts in each others’ minds I’m sure. We made our way towards new family friends of ours. Makenzie was going to be in the same morning enrichment program as their daughter and I really do think that helped both girls from not completely losing it the first day. Each girl took turns posing inside the frame that read 2017-2018 My First Day of School! They were excited. They all lined up and talked amongst themselves. I gave Makenzie another hug, as did Brian and we hung back a little bit. I didn’t want to be helicopter mom and tried to play it really cool but the truth is, inside I was breaking just a little bit. The school bell rang and it was time for her to go. She looked at me with those big hazel eyes and said, “Bye, mommy!” I waved goodbye to her and told her to have a great day. I watched as she slowly turned away from me and followed her friends into the school. Watching her little blonde baby curls every step of the way until I couldn’t see her anymore. I turned towards Brian and looked up because I could feel it. The tears were forming in my eyes.
I’m pretty sure I drove Brian crazy all morning with the, “I wonder what she is doing now?” or “She should be starting actual kindergarten at this time.” Around 11:35 my friend A texted me and said, “I think they’re on their 20 minute lunch,” to which I responded back, “Hopefully they can eat fast!” But that was how my entire day went. Wondering what she was doing, how she was doing, who she was talking to, playing with, if she was being a good listener.
2:30 rolled around and I was practically running out the house. I couldn’t wait to talk to her and find out how her day went. She came strolling out of her school, behind her teacher, and then ran to me, greeting me with, “MOMMY!!” And a giant hug. She said she had a great day. She clipped up to blue, and she made some new friends.
On the way home Brian asked her, “Makenzie, what was the hardest part of your day?” To which she responded, “Probably when they told us we only had 7 minutes to eat snack.”
People say it all the time, “It goes so fast. Enjoy it while you can.”
Lately I’ve been trying to do just that. Take it in. The crazy, the chaos, the good, the bad, and the ugly moments. Because they really are gone in the blink of an eye and then it’s on to the next big milestone.