It’s been almost four months since I’ve blogged, and this post isn’t even necessarily about the fact that I’m only about four weeks away (!) from having this baby. Or the fact that we’re having our THIRD girl!
No. What’s top of mind for me tonight is that my first baby is going off to 4k in the morning.
How did that even happen? When she’s sleeping at night and I check on her before I go to bed, I just stare at the long legs, the long hair, and the very big kid sleeping in the bed. I picture her as a teeny newborn and it’s a little mind boggling to realize how very, very quickly this all goes.
I’ve had these realizations before. Especially after having more than one child. The second time around it’s easier to keep things in perspective when your infant isn’t sleeping through the night, or you’re trying to get rid of the pacifier, or struggling through potty training — it’s easier to tell yourself, “This will only last a few [fill-in-the blank — days, weeks, months].”
As a parent, we’re so excited when our child reaches a new level of independence, be it sleeping through the night, being able to wash his/her own hands, getting their own water. Let’s be honest, mostly because it means less work for us.
But my latest realization was different — for the first time, I realized how truly short a time period it is that our kids are 100% completely dependent on us.
I mean, between six and nine months babies are already less dependent on us because they’re crawling. They can move away from us. Bean was walking at 9.5 months.
Wow, right? At nine months old, NINE MONTHS, the amount of time it took you to grow them, they’re already doing things independently. Without you.
And it just snowballs from there. Their independence milestones just keep getting bigger.
As a parent, we feel like our job is to “raise” this new life. To take care of them, provide for their needs. They NEED us, right?
But really, I’m starting to realize that our job as a parent is to teach them how to succeed in life … without us.
And that’s just a little sad, isn’t it?
I remember my mom wistfully telling me (as an adult) “I gave my kids wings so they could fly.” As an adult, I thought that was great! Now as a parent that makes me boo hoo hoo. I think it’s the hardest thing in the world to so lovingly and tenderly put so much time into another human being just to watch them walk away from you.
Monkey’s first day of school tomorrow reminds me of the first time I dropped her off at my mother-in-law’s house to go back to work after maternity leave. The girls’ Nana has been watching them four days a week since they were 10 and 12 weeks old, respectively. They LOVE their Nana and love going to her house. They’re usually a little disappointed on the weekend when we tell them “No, you’re not going to Nana’s house today, you get to stay home with Daddy and me!” (much to our chagrin).
I remember trying to be really brave and matter of fact when I dropped Monkey off that first day back to work. I almost made it too, until I started bawling at the last minute and then basically had to run out the door. I was so sad that someone else was getting the privilege of spending 8-9 hours of the day with MY baby and that someone wasn’t me. Someone else was getting to *be* there. I was jealous.
Ultimately the experiences Monkey has had over the last 4.5 years at Nana’s house — the memories she’s made and the bond she has with her Nana — have been a benefit to everyone, including me and especially her. The same is true for Bean.
And I know that school will be SUCH a blessing for Monkey. She is so looking forward to it. She will love it and she will thrive. She has an inquisitive nature and it will be so wonderful to watch her mind growing right before our eyes.
But it’s definitely bittersweet. It’s hard to watch this child I love so much take another small step away from me. Even though she was in preschool two mornings a week last year, this is a bigger step. Every day there will be another person, aside from her Nana, her dad and me, who will occupy a central role in her life and development. Another person will get to spend 3+ hours a day with her that I won’t get to spend with her.
My friend who is a teacher wrote this last night and I can only hope all of our kids will experience a teacher or teachers like this in their lives:
“I am excited as always for the first day of school. Parents who are nervous about sending their kids to school: remember, your children are spending the day with peers, but they are also being welcomed, taught, challenged, cherished and watched over by teachers who open their classroom doors, their arms and their hearts to your children. Teachers, remember that tomorrow your rooms will be filled with the most important people in the world, and every one of them is their parents’ heart and soul and pride and joy. Handle with care. And parents, remember, we teachers teach because we want to love and guide your children. We know you see your child as a miracle; know that we do, too. Work with us, and know that we take what you say to heart, and we have the very best intentions in what we do to help your child grow and thrive. Most importantly parents, talk to us. Give us the feedback we need to make the most of our time with your child. I know that it is hard to believe that anyone could feel about your child the way you do — but know that your child’s teachers spend the majority of their lives trying to do and give everything they can for the students they’re blessed to work with. Have a beautiful first day of school everyone!”
I’m hoping I can keep my boo hoo hooing to myself.