It isn’t that I was unaware that my babies aren’t quite “babies” anymore, it’s just that it was a lot easier to ignore before today. Today, we registered Mags for preschool. A-man is starting 5th grade, I’m going to back to college and my little one is going to preschool. And tonight, sitting here in front of my computer, sipping a beer and actually taking the time to reflect on my thoughts about the subject, I find myself feeling simultaneously relieved, terrified, nervous and inspired. We’re growing up together, my kids and I. This August, each one of us will embark on a new journey. Each morning we’ll begin the day at our different schools and we’ll grow, we’ll play, we’ll learn. But let’s get back to today.
When I woke Mags up this morning, she was totally ready to go. She knew that today was the day we were going to register for preschool. She had no problem with getting dressed, although there was a short struggle over which pair of shorts she was going to wear, but once the ones that I had picked out proved to be too small, she won by default. She stood patiently waiting while her Daddy got her pig-tails just right (he’s much better at it than Mommy is). And when it was time to go, she hopped right into the car and we were off.
She sat and colored pictures while I filled out and signed form after form. Then, we finally got to go see some of her new school. Her preschool has a library! I had no idea that preschools had libraries! They also have a school nurse, as well as a speech therapist. How cool is that? While we took our tour of the school, she was immediately greeted and welcomed into a classroom by kids and teachers alike. She saw an easel in the room, picked up the paintbrush and promptly started painting. It made me feel pretty good about things when the teacher not only threw a smock over her clothes and let her go at it, but also saved her finished painting to dry and told her it would be there waiting for her on the first day of school. She played in the sandbox while we checked out the playground. She made herself right at home with the toys in the classrooms. She LOVED it and when it was time for us to go, I had to “count” to get her out of there!
She’s a bit of an emotional child, and when we got home she had a major meltdown because she hadn’t wanted to leave school. So clearly, she’s ready. Mommy, maybe not so much. A few trips to Nana & BeeBop’s house aside, she’s been home with me since the day she came home from the hospital. So, there was a part of my mind that thought that this might be a difficult transition for her. Turns out, that was just me mis-identifying it being a difficult transition for ME. She’s simply not a baby anymore. She’s a big girl, whether I like it or not. I’ve always wanted a magic shot that would make babies stay babies, puppies stay puppies, kittens stay kittens. You get the picture. I love babies (and puppies and kittens). They’re soft and sweet and cuddly and they don’t talk back. They need you. They look up at you with little eyes full of love and tenderness. It’s what makes you fall in love with them in the first place.
I know a lot of women who, when their babies start not being babies anymore, decide it’s time to have another baby. Would I like another baby? Well, maybe a little. But damn sure not enough to actually go through that whole damn process again. I have two potty-trained, school-aged, slightly self-sufficient children. I’d be out of my mind to start over AGAIN at this point, right? RIGHT?? Don’t think I haven’t tried to talk Hubbo into it. As soon as Mags was born, I was ready. I was ready to get pregnant with a third baby right away. I felt like I could just keep having babies forever! I mean, who wouldn’t want to just have as many of those sweet little angelic faces looking lovingly up at you as possible? And I wanted it bad! But Hubbo, was already done. He had two kids and as far as he was concerned, they cost enough. After a few weeks of me talking about having another one, he started looking into having a vasectomy. That pretty much summed it up for me. He was not having another baby and he meant it.
It’s not very often that I say this, but he was right. He was right about our family being perfect as is. He was right about us not being able to afford another child. He was right with his prediction that in another few years, I wouldn’t feel that way anymore. And I don’t. Honestly. Now, even though my youngest child is starting school and I will never have another sweet little baby who only has eyes for their Mommy, I know that he’s right. I freakin’ hate it when he’s right! But I do know it. I know it when I look at my kids and I feel totally complete. When I see how very much I’ve accomplished, through their reflections. When I feel like if I loved anything else as much as them, my heart would explode. And most certainly, when I balance my checkbook.
They are my true accomplishments in this world. I am going back to school because now it is time to attempt to do something else with my life. I will still be alongside them, still mothering them to death, still being their greatest cheerleader and most likely their fiercest adversary in a lot of ways. Mommy is my name, Mother is my badge, “Mama” is written on me in many different ways. But now it’s time for me to be something other than just Mom. My babies are growing. They need me less than they ever have. It’s time for all of us to spread our wings a bit and try out the world a little more. It’s time for me to re-identify myself. I will always be Mommy. I will always wear that badge proudly and completely. But I can’t sit in this house for six hours a day by myself, so it’s time to add another badge. I’m not entirely sure what that badge is yet, for now it’s “student.” Eventually, maybe it will be Mother/Professor.
I’ll let you know how it goes.