I Blinked and She’s Gone

I sent my baby to Kindergarten on Monday.

I sent my little girl to Kindergarten.

I sent THIS little bundle of love to Kindergarten.

millybaby

How is that possible?  It was a blink ago, I promise.  It’s not that she is really “gone,” obviously, but it is the first of many steps in letting go.  You hear it all the time.  Cherish each day; it goes so fast.  But when you’re in the middle of it, it doesn’t feel fast.  The lonely nights from 1-5 am, feel like they’re never going to end.  The hour before my husband gets home seems to drag with the kind of steady defiance reserved for acts like putting their shoes on when I am in a hurry or picking up their rooms, one lego at a painful time.  And yet I took my baby to Kindergarten Monday.

She has always operated at her own pace.  Although my body and my midwife told me, “Any day now,” three weeks before her due date, she came twelve days late.  Although the moon was high, the house still and dark, she was hungry and restless.   While all infants were napping, she decided to announce her independence by fighting me for two hours, only to give in for thirty minute nap.

Those were long, tireless days.  Those days looked so different from what I had imagined.  I had a great track record with all babies up to that point.  But despite swaddling, coddling, despite being full, dry, bounced, walked, she would cry for hours in the early weeks for me.  Then her father would come home, pick her up and she was, of course, done.  But that was about all he could do for her, for me, because despite 4 types of pacifiers and 5 types of bottles, she was an “AintNothin’LiketheRealThing” kind of baby.  All mom, all the time.

I was deep in the darkness.   Deep in the fog.  Deep in the “WhatdidIdotomylife?-WhyisMyShirtWet?-WhyDoesn’tMyBabyLikeMe?-WillIEverSleepAgain? Blues.”  And then it was over.  She didn’t fit on my chest anymore.  She wanted to move and explore.  She started to sleep and have opinions and feed herself and then I dropped her off at Kindergarten.

When her brother was born, I held him on my chest, tucked under my chin, as long as he would fit.  I knew how quickly it would change.

When he started to toddle after her, I held him a little longer at bedtime.

When he mispronounces words, I am not so quick to correct him.  He’ll do it soon enough and I love how he says, “Capation” for vacation.

And when he nearly breaks me with his “three-ness,” I remember that I was there with her and that at four I realized that she actually had been listening.

I was talking with husband this summer about the cruel, or maybe kind, parenting phenomenon that allows you to look back fondly on stages that, while you were in them, almost broke you.  When they are infants, it is the lack of sleep.  Everything is foggy and turns into a game of Survivor.  But you always know where they are and they don’t argue about what’s for dinner.  When they are toddlers, there is danger lurking around every coffee table, but they don’t ask you for Monster High junk.  And I am in a pretty sweet spot right now.  They are relatively innocent and sweet.  They are curious and somewhat self-sufficient.  They still think I am great and make me laugh every day.  And just when I want to absorb (almost) every moment, I am sending her off.

I usually try to tie in something about wine, but how could I?  There is nothing I can say about wine this week.   Except that I’ve had some.  And that next week I’ll likely be able to look back and tell you about the ones I enjoyed.  But this week, I am missing my girl.  And I am excited for her.  And I am trying to absorb and enjoy this phase.  Because I am sure I will blink and be sending her to middle school, to high school, to college.  But that is more than I can even comprehend right now.

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15 responses

  1. Great piece and it reminded me of all the landmark occasions in my two young men’s lives. Now, the young one travels the world without keeping me up to date on his whereabouts and the oldest one doesn’t need my wise counsel except when he can’t stop me from providing it. Rejoice in your young ones’ moments and save all the art!

  2. Great post, Alissa! This is so very true – I still remember them being born and still have baby pictures all around – and nevertheless the youngest already started middle school, and I’m scared to blink – as she will be gone…

    • Thank you! My friend posted a piece from the times about children leaving for college and that K is the first step. He said that the greatest part of our life is ending and there’s is beginning. Gasp…

  3. Tears in my eyes! I remember all those moments and it is funny if not crazy how you look back and miss it. Crazy to think you could ever miss sleepless nights and stained shirts. Now mine are 11 and I sent them off to middle school a few days ago. I did all I could not to show them how stressed and worried I was for them, new school, new teachers, new everything. To think about high school and college…I can’t begin to go there. Like all of life’s ventures do your best to enjoy the journey with her, it really flies by. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Reblogged this on 50 Things Before I Turn 50 and commented:
    This post captured so many of my feelings. The first day my kids went off to middle school I was brought back to their first day of kindergarten. Unlike kindergarten, they didn’t want to hold my hand or have me walk with them. I wasn’t even allowed to pick out the clothes for the first day. What I love about this post is how it reminds us parents, moms and dads just how fleeting the craziness of parenthood is. I try to remind myself that one day I’ll miss doing their laundry and buying bread in bulk…one day.

  5. Reblogged this on SAHMmelier and commented:

    I wrote this last year but thought I’d reshape for all of you that are preparing to do the same. No, you’re not crazy if you want just one more year. No, you’re not crazy if you’re ready for the space and freedom. And no, I’m not ready to send her off again.

  6. We just celebrated my parents 50th wedding anniversary last week. During our family gathering many family stories were repeated about my and my siblings youth, you can bet the youngest of the nieces and nephews were listening well to know what they might be able to get away with. My kids are the oldest grandkids my parents have – both in their 20′s now and full of stories of their own to share. It was fun to weave the web of family tighter and add the colors and patterns of each young life. Every stage is precious, but you are also progressing through stages (we all are!) – thank you for sharing this post again as I missed it last year as I began a college program yet again.

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