It was only their third day back at preschool when in the car on the way there she said; “Mommy, I’m walking into school all by myself today.” A thousand thoughts raced through my head as I listened quietly how she wanted to walk all the way from the big tree at the top of the steps, across the lawn to the stairs up to her classroom. After all – she reminded me – she is 4 years old now and in the ‘big’ class this year. I calmly answered: ‘Sure koekeldoeks,’ but my thoughts were racing. “How do I let go of that warm little hand clutching mine as we walk into her classroom like we’ve done every day for the past three years?” Our routine has always been the same; Mommy helps to place her water bottle in just the right spot in her locker, she adds her book bag and then my favorite part follows – those cuddly little arms wrap tightly around my neck for a goodbye kiss and a hug, both of us holding on just that little bit longer
But today was going to be different. I could hear it in her voice. Her confidence was starting to shine through. I felt a mixed bag of emotions, proud of my confident Roxy girl, but sad that I was about to loose some special moments. I realized she would be okay. The question was: “Would I?”
As we stopped at the big tree, I got a hug and a kiss and then she turned around, pink Barbie bag in tow. I watched until she reached the steps to her classroom. She walked in with so much confidence…and without looking back once.
As the lump in my throat threatened to turn into tears, I felt another warm, little hand reaching up and clutching mine. “Mommy, will you uppies me?” I scooped my 3-year-old Zack into my arms and carried him all the way to his classroom, forsaking all the expert advice on not to carry your toddler into school.
As Zack and I reached his classroom and I rearranged his water bottle in his locker, I realized I probably had one more year of special walks and warm little hands before he too asks to walk into the classroom all by himself. So that day, I lingered just a little bit longer and my hug was definitely tighter than usual.
As I walked back to the car I realized settling back into the 2017 preschool routine has probably been harder on me than on my two children. They are growing up, gaining confidence and loving their newfound independence, while I on the other hand feel time slipping by much quicker than what I would like it to.
So next time you are in the midst of countless nappies, the 7th milk bottle for the day and way too little sleep, believe it when somebody says to you: “Enjoy every minute, every second, because it happens all too quickly. Before you know it, they are going to be all grown up.”