Monday, September 10, 2012

First Day

Today wasn't Abby's first day of full-fledged school. Not yet. (Depending on what province we live in next year, she'll start kindergarten either next fall or the one after, when she is five years old.) Today was her first day of preschool, and while it was an exciting deal in our house, I am very comforted that it was not her first day of school. Not yet.
Because once she starts going to school, that's it. She's not going to be with me Monday to Friday, between morning and afternoon, for 10 months of the year. And I am not ready for that eventuality.
When Abby had her first birthday, I remember being blindsided by the realization that birthdays are going to keep coming, and they have. Sure, I might turn 27 this year and 28 the next. That's no big deal. But Abby? My sweet first-born? She will turn FOUR next year and FIVE after that. It is simple math, but the equation is startling.
Preschool is right for her and us right now. She will go to a church basement twice a week for two hours each morning. The programming is wonderfully paced, with a balance I really like between freedom and routine. The teacher is remarkable and very experienced in the field of early childhood education. The program involves outdoor play, field trips, class parties, themes tied to nature, and endless opportunities for the kids to begin expressing themselves in new ways. Abby has stayed with me, her stay-at-home mama for three years now, and this taste of early learning is perfectly suited to her. She sees her little friends, and learns more about the world around her, then returns to me. Just the way we both like it.
I like being her mama, and I like that she needs me. I am eternally grateful I am able to stay home with her and her sisters to raise them full-time until they begin formalized education. Staying home is certainly a privilege and not a right these days. I am going to be her mama for the rest of her life, and these few short years at her life's beginning are the only years we get to grow together every day in and day out. I am starting to appreciate the enormity of this gift.
This morning I wrote her name inside her backpack, shoes and lunch container with a fat Sharpie marker, which felt like such a mom-ish thing to do. It felt so good to do this little act of service for her, because when she's away from me those two mornings a week, I need to know that I prepared her and her preschool things as best as I could. Maybe then, on the unthinkable day when I hand her over to the education system to spend the majority of her waking hours, I'll feel like no matter how sad it is to let go, I've done my best to get her ready.
On the way out the door to preschool. Age three.

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