The Effect of (pre)School on Moms (why did no one warn me?)

I’m don’t think I’m alone when I say, “I can’t believe how fast my kids are growing up.”

This week in Ontario, it’s Back to School.  So I’m sure there were/are many parents sending their kiddos off to school and saying that exact same thing, whether their kids are going into grade 12 or Junior Kindergarten (or college, for that matter). While our kids aren’t off to The Big School just yet, we did have our own First Day of sorts.

Bella and Cash started Preschool this week and I’m not sure how I feel about it.


Cash (age 19 mos) & Bella (age 3), excited to be off to Preschool!

See how pumped they are?  No tears, no anxiety, just pure excitement.  Mind you, Bella got a little sad when we dropped her off.  And Cash started wailing once he figured out we weren’t staying.  But by the time pick-up rolled around, both kids were playing in their respective playgrounds quite happily, and all reports indicated a great first day.

So… yay?  Parenting win?  I guess so.

The reason I hesitate is because I’m just not sure if this is how things are supposed to go.  The kids were in a perfectly awesome home daycare previous to this, and always had been.  But they were together, all the time.  And Bella is a quiet, sometimes quite shy little person.  And Cash turns from a social, happy little man into a huge bear when his big sister isn’t around to play with.  So clearly (well, clearly to us anyway), the kids seemed to be needing a little more socialization.

Really, the decision to change the kids into a preschool centre from a home daycare was based around Bella.  As I mentioned, she is quiet and can be very shy (although she has really started to come out of her shell as of late).  Andrew and I figured that sending her to a centre that is structured very much like kindergarten would be good for her.  We want her transition from home/daycare to school to be as smooth as possible.  Also, we figured Cash could build some independence so when Bella does go to school next fall, he isn’t completely heartbroken.  (Do understand that it will not matter that he’s home with me while Bella is at school.  I’m way down on the totem pole of favourites when it comes to my son!)

But even after this first day, I’m starting to think that this decision might benefit me more than anyone else.  Yes, the kids had a great day and will likely (hopefully) continue to have great days in the weeks to come.  Sure, Bella will likely (again, hopefully) go to school next fall feeling much more confident than she may have had she stayed at home until then.

But what about me?  Doesn’t it matter how well I, The Mother, transition from having my kids at home to having them gone?  Don’t I get a say in how fast my kids grow up and live their lives without me there to see them live it?  And besides, isn’t that why I chose to stay home in the first place – to raise my young children?  So what happens when they’re raised?  Then what?

Can you tell I’m a little emotional about this? 🙂

I think I’m so emotional and I’m questioning our decision because I didn’t realize how much this change would actually affect ME.  I didn’t give one single thought to how changing the kids from a home daycare to preschool might also change me.  Well, it has.  Big time.  Even after just the first day, sending the kids off to preschool caused my first Bona-fide Flash Forward as parent, as a mother.

For the first time, I could actually picture – as in, actually picture – Bella going off to school next fall and then being in school for the following 15+ years.  For the first time, I pictured what my days might be like when both kids are in school full-time. When Cash starts junior kindergarten, Bella will be in Grade 1.  As a friend of mine said the other day of her daughter attending Grade 4, “I can’t believe I have a kid who’s now in a grade that I remember being in.”

Grade 1 was the grade where my family moved from the town I was born in to out into the middle of nowhere.  Or at least, that’s how it felt at the time to 7-year-old me. I vividly remember, after just a week or so of being at my new school, the principal coming into our classroom with a stack of books and setting them down in front of ME – brand new books, just for me, that I’d ordered from my old school and that had been delivered to my new school so I would get what my parents paid for.  All the kids were staring at me and wanting to see my new books (one was a Berenstain Bears book, if I recall).  I just put my chin atop my folded arms and smiled.

I suppose the worst thing about these Flash Forwards is that they will never stop. There will be – if we continue to be as lucky as we have been – a thousand more first days of everything that will cause me to take a step back and reflect on my time as a parent so far.  My life as a mom, which I never thought I would ever be when I was about 15.

But even though these reflections make me sad, I can’t help but feel a little tiny spark of excitement.  In that tiny spark, there’s no tears.  No anxiety.  Just pure excitement over what’s to come.  Birthdays.  Graduations.  Adventures.  Celebrations.  Tears. Sadness.  Happiness.  Love.

And if I get to experience all of those things and more within my life, with my children and family, then the Flash Forwards are worth just as much to me as that little spark.

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