Monday, August 30, 2010

I know I'm supposed to be excited about this moment.

Tomorrow, on August 31, 2010, at exactly 9:00 a.m., my baby starts preschool.

My last child. My little girl.

It's baffling to me that this is even possible, considering that I just gave birth to her. After all, it was mere moments ago that I held her newborn body in my arms, yet here she is, three years old.

Three years old, and independent and spunky as the day is long.

We attended preschool orientation last Wednesday morning for an hour, and my daughter had the audacity to be mad at me because I wouldn't leave. "Mama, leeeeave," she said firmly. "I wanna stay here by myself."

"Today is not the day I leave," I responded. "Your first day is on Tuesday."

Then she cried, not because she was scared to start preschool, but because she couldn't stay there by herself. I was cramping her 3-year old style.

Isn't it supposed to be the other way around? Isn't she supposed to cry because I am leaving her?

That independent streak. Gets me every time.

It's not that I want her to cling and cry when I leave. But couldn't she at least pretend to be the tiniest bit devastated that her one-and-only beloved mother is leaving her alone at school for two and a half hours?

Couldn't she just pretend for my sake?

Dang. Three-year olds are so selfish.

For the last decade, it has been a constant. My children's ages are staggered in such a way that there has always been someone with me while another child has started school. Over the last ten years, I have become so used to having at least one child with me at the grocery store, or when I go to a doctor's appointment, or messing up my piles of laundry as I fold them, or fidgeting while I attend a meeting at school, or with me as I lunch with a friend, that it has become second nature. Sure, I have had plenty of moments to myself over the years, but on a regular, daily basis, it is usually me plus one or more of my shorties.

But now, my fourth and final shorty is starting preschool. She's only going to be away from me for a grand total of five hours a week.

I can deal.

More than one person has asked me, "Clare, what are you going to do with all that free time?"

Well, in simple terms, whatever the heck I want to, thankyouverymuch.

Perhaps I will go into a changing room and try on a pair of jeans without a little pair of eyes staring back and me and snickering, "Tee hee...mama. I see your underwears."

Perhaps I will go to Starbucks and just sit and stare at people without having to scold, "Stop touching that or you'll knock over that display of mugs!"

Perhaps I will go to the grocery store and just walk through the aisles. And actually read labels. And check prices. And look at all my choices without having to throw stuff into the cart while chasing a toddler.

Perhaps I will do whatever I darn well please. Because I can. At least for two and half hours every Tuesday and Thursday morning for the next 10 months.

I'm totally excited about this new phase.

I think.

Kind of.

I know I'll get there soon. But right now, as I think of the last ten years of constant, baby-wearing, kid hand-holding, 24/7 parenting, and I realize that my last baby is growing up, I'm just kind of sad.

Growing up is hard to do.

And this time, I'm not talking about my kids.


  1. Oh, I love this! I just posted today about my "free time", but I am at quite a different place than you are! My daughter is SO independent, like yours, and I can remember so well how she couldn't wait for me to leave preschool. She's 12 now, and it was a blink ago.

    Best of luck tomorrow! Enjoy your "me" time.

  2. This was great. I remember feeling that way when my older daughter started school. Now we have her little sister and I am back to being the baby-momma 24/7 ... I look forward to the day my younger daughter heads off to school because I desperately need the alone time, but I also dread it with all my heart because I love having a little one to love on all day. What ever will I do when I only have me? LOL.

  3. Wow - thanks for making me cry like a baby...again...for about the 4th time since last Wed...

    Stefan wouldn't hold my hand at the "big school" and still won't. That has done the most damage to my "mommy still is needed" heart.

    You have beautiful children - they are lucky to have you - even if they don't know how to say how much so - even if they are three!! The day isn't too far away when she will cry that you leave her front door when you say goodbye from a visit.

  4. Great post!! I think you need to have a massage when you drop her off Thursday!! Came from desperate housemommy! I am a new follower!

  5. "I was cramping her 3 year old style"...too funny. Hope today went swimmingly...

  6. I'm going to keep having babies forever and then I never have to worry about this, becauwe it makes me cry to think about it.

  7. I so feel ya! My baby just started last week and did the EXACT same thing @ orientation!! :( However, I did thoroughly enjoy my first morning of me-time, and am actually looking forward to Fridays now :) After my coffee-shop time, I was detirmined to go in a store with breakables! Purposely. :) Savor the bittersweet moment for what it is, I say. Even chocolate tastes good when it's semi-sweet. ;)

  8. All your free time! You make me laugh...they said that to me last year when I had both boys in preschool at the same time. Once we do the math, 2 1/2 hours is really like 2 after the dropping off/picking up part. However, it is 2 hours so enjoy!!!

  9. Awww!! I know what you mean! I have a 2 y/o & 5 y/o boy. My oldest just started kindergarten (I tried to enroll my 2 y/o but they said something about him being too young...). When that 2 y/o starts kindergarten finally, it'll be soooo hard! On another note, I found your blog from The Desperate Housemommy's recommendation. Glad I did!

  10. Love this....With oldest starting kindergarten, and middle starting preschool, I'll finally have some one on one time with "the baby". Who, is not really a baby at 19 months. But I call him that still, and I know I probably always will because I'm fairly certain he's our last (well, you know, 99.9% certain...roughly). I am quite sure the day will come after I've whined that all I want is a minute to myself, and he'll run off to preschool without a second glance, and I'll have this moment. Le sigh. Thanks for the preview!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Great stuff.


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