Sunday, August 14, 2011

Can Somebody Hold My Hand?

I wrote this last week before Kindergarten actually started, but am just now getting it posted. Read on for an update at the end on how the first week went :-)


My name is Leilanni.

And Kindergarten makes me cry.

Tomorrow, I will be sending our precious firstborn out into the world of "real" school. Granted, we've done Preschool, but Kindergarten is different. They go every day. There's homework. They keep records for goodness sakes!

I was honestly doing just fine, resolved NOT to be a blubbery mess over my sweet girl going to school. However, this changed about a week ago . . .

The baby was asleep upstairs and the other two girls were running around the house like they do every morning - playing princess, chase or whatever the game of the morning was - with a trail of giggles following them.

And suddenly it hit me - hard - that these days, these mornings of play-dough, silly songs and construction paper flurries, of playing in a cardboard box "submarine", choosing to be Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty, deciding on markers or crayons or both . . . these days were coming to an end. My "baby" was going to school. I guess I had never really considered what it would be like around here while she's gone half the day, five days a week.

And cue the waterworks . . . (they haven't stopped since).

Of course, life is not all rainbows and butterflies around here with three young girls - some days are extremely difficult, some days I want to pull my hair out. But I love being a stay-at-home mom. I love hearing the sounds of giggly girls all over the house. And ever since our oldest was born, since I do stay at home, she has been right by my side. Grocery shopping, playdates, family visits, roadtrips, cleaning, cooking, driving, doctor visits, window shopping - I've always taken her everywhere with me.

Call me sappy, but when she goes to Kindergarten I'll miss her.

I'm not sure I'm ready for this. Ever since my revelation that these care-free BK (Before Kindergarten) days are disappearing, I am having the hardest time thinking about this new phase we're entering into. Not just Kindergarten, but what it represents: another small step in the gradual letting-go process. Parenthood is the only job where slowly working yourself out of the job, creating independence in your child, is the measure of success.

Right about now is when my husband would remind me of a certain pattern he's picked up on in the 14 years he's known me. He likes to call it my "beginning of semester syndrome".

Let me explain. We were both in college when we met and began dating. At the beginning of each semester, after receiving all my course syllabi, I would call my very patient then-boyfriend and practically hyperventilate over the amount of papers due, the difficulty of the projects and the extremity of hands-on activities expected outside of class.

(Allow me to chase this bunny path for a moment . . .I was an education major so we were constantly doing classroom visits, diagnostics, evaluations, volunteering, etc. In one class relating to teaching Science in the school, this involved leading elementary age girls in dissecting a cow eyeball without retching and with a lovely smile on my face. Far be it for me to wreck a budding young scientist's career by implying taking apart an animal's organ is in some way completely disgusting. "See girls?! It just seems like the eyeball is relentlessly staring at you asking, 'Why? Why?!' I promise Bessie can't feel a thing..." Um, yeah. That didn't scar me or anything.)

Anyway. Stepping away from the bunny path and back to the story of my predictable pre-semester break-downs: My now-husband would patiently listen to my ranting and then oh so sweetly encourage me that I could do it. And at the end of every semester, when I once again succeeded, he somehow avoided saying "I told you so."

Toward the end of my Senior year, and during my traditional course-load anxiety session, my then-fiancee had the gall to say, "Do you realize that you do this at the beginning of every single semester? And you always do just fine?"

"What are you talking about?! I do NOT always . . .[enter flash of reality] Oh. You're right. Dang."

I really, truly had not realized my pattern!! Since then it's become something of a joke between us. At the beginning of any new venture I tend to spill out all the reasons it's scary, why it won't work, why I can't do it. And, with a cute little smirk that only he can get away with, my husband says, "Is this your beginning-of-semester-syndrome again?"

"NO. (yes.)"

So, yesterday I found myself driving home from a rare solo shopping trip, wondering how in the world our sweet girl was old enough to be in Kindergarten. When all of the sudden I realized I was doing it yet again. Here comes another new chapter in our lives and here I am wondering if I'm up to it (Can I actually get her to school on time? What if I forget to remind her about Show and Tell? What if a friend hurts her feelings? Girls can be so mean. What if the teacher doesn't understand her and her quirkiness? What if the teacher doesn't understand me? I do not want to be THAT parent. I know. So sad. Just bein' honest here, folks. And as a former teacher, it is VERY weird to be on this end.)

I'm more than confident I would have fit right in with those Old Testament Israelites. I seem to share a certain part of their DNA: They worried about enslavement. God set them free. They worried about being trapped by the Egyptians. God parted the river. They worried about food. God made bread rain down from Heaven. They worried about their enemies. God defeated them without a weapon being raised. Are we seeing a pattern here? Hmmm. It sounds suspiciously like mine! Worry. God provides. Worry. God provides . . .

Why do I have such a short spiritual memory? At every turn, every new venture, God has more than provided. I never saw it coming, the "how" of His provision, but it has always come. I would think that by now, with all that I have seen Him do in our lives, that I would be so over this "worrying" thing and so into this "trusting" thing.

But is anything harder than trusting someone else with your child? Is anything more difficult than letting go and letting them learn to fly?

Sigh. Right now, my answer is "no".

But, I still have to let her go. I will confidently take the "First Day of School" picture, reassure her that she will not get lost and smile and wave as I pull away from the carpool line.

And then like so many other moms, I will pull away a safe distance before dissolving in tears. And then I will probably call my husband and wait for his reminder that all is well. It's just another semester.

Okay. Since writing this, my girl has been in Kinder for a week now. And I survived! Actually, it was nowhere near as traumatic as I thought it would be. Did not even cry! Seriously! I still miss her during the day, but the excitement I hear in her voice every day at pick-up is so worth it. What really threw me for a loop? When I went to drop off our 2 year old for pre-school the next day. I figured I made it through the big-bad-Kindergarten first day . . . what's preschool for 2 mornings a week? Um, but guess who dropped off her middle "baby" and then pulled a safe distance away before bawling all the way home? Sigh. Just another semester . . .

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Brain Cells, I Miss You. XOXOXO

After long writing hiatuses (is that even a word? spell check didn't fuss at me, but it still looks strange. anyway.), I usually pop on here and say something like, "Wow, can't believe how long it's been, going to try to write more, blah, blah, blah."

And then 4 more months pass. Lather, rinse, repeat.

So. No more of those delusional statements. With three children ages 5, 2 and almost 1 I have come to peace with a crazy radical idea: I will write when I have time. And be okay with that.

Wow. Did that blow your socks off or what?

Take a moment and collect yourselves.

Alrighty then, moving on. I really have nothing deep to share today. In fact, I'm pretty sure I've been wading in the shallow end all week. Case in point? So far this week I have learned the following:

-When making coffee, it seems to work better to add water to the coffee maker. It makes it, um, more liquidy;

-Sewing machines will not run without electricity. Therefore, it might be helpful to actually remove the plug from the packaging before tossing the box into the garage for trash day;

-If confounded why your fabric is wet and cold during ironing,as opposed to warm and steamy, it is a generally accepted practice to plug the iron into the wall. See sewing machine example.

-Before deciding that your vacuum cleaner must be on the fritz since it is not actually sucking up any dirt, it would be a good idea to turn the switch from "hose" to "floor". Especially before "vacuuming" half a room until noticing this.

Seriously, people!! What is wrong with me this week?? These aren't exactly difficult tasks!

Please make me feel better and tell me you've been there, too. And if you haven't, at least make up something really good...