Many moms seem so ready and excited for the next stage of life with their kids that they tend to rush through all the great parts of their current stages. This is particularly true for the starting school step. Last year, when my daughter was only 3, I felt peer pressure to put her into early preschool. “It’s so great for their social skills” was the main argument to have me spend another $$$ a year more than I needed to. And we were so scared of our kids falling behind that most of us bought into this lie of needing to put them into another year of schooling. But I resisted and I’m so glad I kept that last year of her school-free life to myself.
Now, my daughter is a year older and we do want her to start (real) preschool. But now that that time has come, there are things I didn’t realize I wasn’t ready for that are coming with it. I’m not ready for my daughter to start school, even if it’s just a few hours, a few days a week.
I’m not ready for:
Our separation: On one hand, I’m really ready for a few hours with one less kid so maybe I can get some work done earlier in the day. On the other hand, this time spent apart is a huge step of trust for both of us. I must trust a stranger with my child when I usually am quite selective of my babysitters, and she has to trust this stranger to protect and educate her. And each morning’s drop-off is a reminder that it may only be a few hours each week, but next year it will be more. And then even more the year after that. Someday, I’ll miss her constant questions and her need for me to entertain her.
The class snack obligation: Get ready for prepackaged, generic brand, processed crap kids love because that’s what’s easiest for me!
The “homework,” both for her and for me: Preschool hadn’t even started when I was getting asked to plan and execute parties, sign up for field trips, and donate supplies at very specific times of the upcoming year (her teacher is a planner, I guess!).
The time commitment: Luckily, her preschool is only 9 hours total each week, so that still leaves us plenty of time for other adventures. But for those three days, our freedom to just pick up and go on adventures in the mornings is done. My last minute decisions to go to the aquarium, the park, or play dates will have to wait for her days off from school unless I want to brave afternoon plans.
The growing up: She has many years of school ahead of her. Remind me why I was so eager for this step again? Wasn’t it just yesterday that she was taking her first steps, saying her first words, and needing me for basically everything?
Even if I chose to forego preschool altogether and prep her myself for kindergarten, the day would still come when she’d run into school to learn and grow up before my eyes. There’s no escaping that truth, though that doesn’t mean I’m ready for it all the same. So before the school year begins, I’ll treasure every last moment with her, even the ones where she’s driving me crazy. Because all too soon, she will be at school for 6 hours each day instead of just 3 and that will be much harder to face.