I have to be to work early so Dad will be taking over the driving to Kindergarten morning routine. For the first time in 5 1/2 years I won't be with my son every single morning as he starts his day. I've known this for months, we planned this a while ago. But now as the date approaches and I consider "the last time" for everything, I am sad. I am realizing I'm going to miss this, as the country song goes.
Since his first day at his babysitter's house when he was 12 weeks old, I have brought him to the sitter. I've picked him up from the sitter and drove him home. I have carried that baby car seat, snapped him in and out a zillion times, and hopefully gotten stronger muscles in my arms from it!
I've been the first one home to get him out of his little car seat and snuggle him, or let him sleep in it in the living room while I clean up the kitchen, and then hear his little voice looking for me.
I've been the one who got him out of that baby car seat and seen his scrunched up little behind, and put him to my shoulder and patted his back, shushing him if he was tired and fussy, feeding him that afternoon bottle or snack as he was older.
That was me. Driving to and from drop off and pick ups for the last 5 years.
We planned it this way. I get out of work earlier in the day so we wanted our baby near my work (half hour from home) just in case I needed to get him if he was sick. And yes, I sure did, many times. Sometimes even driving all the way to work to find that he threw up in the back seat and I had to drive all the way back home with him, snuggle him after the bath, and just rest, as he got better, in his Mama's arms.
I'm going to miss that. I'm going to miss that if he's sick in the morning after I go to work, I won't be the first one there to comfort him like I've done before. I have no doubts about my husband taking over this role, he's the best, most hands-on dad there is.
But I'm going to miss the privilege that it is of being the one, the first one, the one there the most. It's been an honor.
I'm going to miss knowing how it went that morning, knowing every detail of if he cried or smiled, if he was shy at first or energetic and on his way, taking over the world. I'm going to miss the control of remembering to tell the sitter or teacher "this morning was tough," or "he woke up too early so have patience today, please" or "this weekend was awesome, you'd be so proud to hear he did this..."
I'm going to miss picking out the clothes in the morning. I'm sure I'll do some of that in Kindergarten, but I won't be the one to remind him to get his boots on a certain day or pack his sneakers on the other day. I won't be the one to straighten out his socks, sometimes they get twisted when Mr. I Do It Myself puts them on solo. I'm there to straighten them out, because I know that bugs him later on when he's running. I'm going to miss straightening the socks.
I'm going to miss our sleepy, slow, quiet conversations in the car ride to school in the mornings. Where he's sucking his thumb in the rearview mirror, and randomly asking me about this truck or that tractor on the road that we're passing by.
I'm going to miss the questions. The incessant questions that drove me insane over the years, when all I wanted was peace and quiet to start or end my busy days. I'm going to miss those questions though, the ones that tell me what's on his mind, the ones that show me he's listening to what I'm saying prior to these busy moments. The ones that show me he's learning and growing up.
I'll miss those questions. I hope I get some after school when I pick him up from Kindergarten, but the morning ones are my favorite, they are more alert and inquisitive. I'll miss those. Dad is lucky to get those now.
I think most of all I'm going to miss all of the adventures we've had in the town where I work and where he went to daycare and school. At least 3 days a week after school when I'd pick him up, we'd go on an adventure. Sometimes to the beach to build sand castles or run in the water when it was so hot - in our school clothes and my work clothes no less! He always loved those trips.
Sometimes we'd get Dairy Queen ice cream. OK a lot of times we did that! Sometimes it was hair cuts and errands like picking up something for dinner and letting him get a treat.
A lot of times it was going in the morning to pick up a donut at our favorite bakery. We call that Special Time. You LOVE it. I LOVE IT. I never told him ahead of time, it was always a surprise. He'd get giddy, thinking we'd be late to school for a moment just to pick out a donut and eat it outside on the sidewalk together. These are my most cherished moments. Now, Dad gets to take him to get donuts, and I'm honestly excited he gets that chance. But I'm jealous. I love those moments. Sure, we can get donuts or ice cream or something healthy perhaps (ha!) in the afternoons, but I'm going to miss these mornings that we had.
Mostly I'll really miss our playground adventures. The best playground in the world is right near my work. OK it's not huge or something majorly special, but we love it. It's brightly colored, big open running spaces, a pile of dirt to run in, puddles to splash in, swings and things to ride, and the coolest slide. It's where he learned to climb, to really go down a slide, and where I've caught him a zillion times at the end. Sure, there are awesome - even better - playgrounds near our house that we can go to after Kindergarten. But I'm going to miss this one where we started out playing together.
I'll be there the first day of Kindergarten just like I was on the first day of Preschool. Of course.
But I won't be there every morning after that. I'll go into work late to see special programs at your Kindergarten, of course, but I won't be the one there each morning. I'm going to miss that.
I'll miss helping him get his jacket off. And reminding him to walk instead of run, and to change into sneakers instead of keeping on your wet snowy boots. I was the one to remind that him that he needed his blanket to sleep and that he hadn't had a big breakfast so I'll ask the teacher to give him extra snack.
I'm going to miss knowing exactly how the morning started. Was it good? Was it slow and easy or rushed and impatient? Will it be a great day or a tiring day? How is he feeling?
I'll ask my husband those things, sure, but it won't be the same.
I'll miss knowing everything. Don't all of we moms want to know everything about our kids? It's hard to find that for the first time I won't know everything. I'm having a hard time letting that go.
I'm going to miss seeing the friendships being built in the morning or knowing exactly what he does in the morning at school. Right now I know he draws or colors or makes Mom a picture. I know he writes letters to Dad. I know he reads occasionally, but mostly he's playing with trucks and blocks. I love that I know these details of his life.
As a busy working mom who is not home all day to see these things, it's nice to see at least a piece in the morning. I'll miss seeing these pieces of his day.
Yes, I'm struggling with saying goodbye to this chapter of our lives.
I'm realizing that I'm wanting to hold on a little longer by doing more playground adventures and special times lately before things change this fall.
I'm wanting to make it last before it slips through my mommy fingers.
I know this is not the end. That's silly to think. I know that we'll be together plenty, he won't even see a difference, I'm sure. And it's awesome that he and his Dad get that special morning time together.
And honestly, it's exhausting and frustrating to drive two kids to and from school daily for five years. I've surely complained, a zillion times, sometimes even resenting my husband that he had carefree, quiet, mornings where he could talk or do nothing while I was answering a thousand questions and breaking up fights in the backseat.
I've surely wanted a break from being the one on duty in the mornings.
But now that it's over... man, I'm going to miss this. I'll miss being that one on duty.
I'm even going to miss my children being together in the car. They are starting to talk about missing that, too.
But I'm also going to have a lot left to me still, even though I miss the morning routine, I still get the afternoons.
I get to be the first one home with him after Kindergarten. I get to be the one he runs up to in the afternoons to tell me about his day. I get to be the one who hears the stories first, who sees what he's doing on the playground at school when I pick him up. I get to see if he's tired, upset, elated with joy about what he learned. I hopefully get to see his teachers and ask how his day went. I get to see the friends he's making.
I get to see him drift off for that quick afternoon cat nap in the car... and I still get to snap a thousand pictures of him looking like my baby again in that car seat, eyes closed, beautiful eye lashes that I wonder where he got them because I sure don't have cute ones like that. I get to see that he's still little, after all, after a busy day of missing him so.
I get to be there. I still get to be there.
It's hard to accept that there will be moments I won't see or know about. It's hard to realize that a part of his growing up is over and it's changing into a new part of growing up.
It's difficult for me to accept that he's not my baby anymore, really and truly, he's a big boy now. He's a little boy, I guess... still only 5 years old (well, 5 and a half!), but he's growing. And those baby phases are over. And I'm glad they are over, we sleep a lot more now!
But I'm going to miss this.
I want to remember it all. I want to re-read the baby book and go back through photos. Even just seeking out these photos for this post I was tearing up remembering how adorable he was as a baby. I can't wait to fast forward five years and look back at age 5-10 and see how amazing and smart and creative he was as a young boy.
There is so much to look forward to with Kindergarten and this new phase. I know this to be true. I really do.
For now though, I'm sad and reminiscing about the good ol' days and what I'm leaving behind that I'm surely going to miss.
It's difficult to accept that our babies are going to grow up without us and head off into the world, after all that we do to care for them from the time they are so little and cannot even move or eat without us.
My good friend told me years before I even had kids that it's kind of sad but wonderful to realize that our entire job as parents is to help our children grow up to be sufficient and independent without us, to teach them to move away from us and grown and be on their own.
That's our job. It's the biggest job we'll ever face. And it's doable. It's manageable. But it's sad and filled with moments of wondering if we were there enough, if we did enough with them or said enough or taught them enough in those moments that we did have them all these years.
And I know I have. I know I've made the most of our five years together in those car rides in the morning. We've both grown and learned a lot.
I'm going to miss seeing all of the morning parts... but I know there is so much more to come that is exciting and wonderful and happy. I just have to hold on and wait patiently until 3:30 p.m. in the afternoon to find out what happened.
It'll be a grand adventure, that's for sure.
I think I'm ready for it.
Go ahead and fly, little man.
Mama will be here when you land.
Every single afternoon.