Tatum had her first day of preschool last Friday. I wanted to be the mom that was overjoyed that her child was starting this new adventure; that I knew it was a part of life and it was silly to be upset over imminent growing up. And the free time! Mornings to myself! Coffee in silence! It sounded good to me.
That is, until my husband and I took her to her first day of school. The school is so big and our Tatum is still so little (a baby still in my eyes!). I could slowly feel the lump forming in my throat. We walked in to her classroom and put her backpack into her locker. The locker had a sign with her name written on it, and I could feel the tears forming in my eyes. She suddenly started to look so much more grown up to me than she had this morning. She put on her indoor shoes, surveyed the room, and immediately made her way over to the play kitchen. We said hello to her teachers (who were very kind and welcoming) and to the other parents who had arrived with their children. Tatum began playing with a little girl, and I breathed a little sigh of relief that she had quickly found a buddy. The teacher went over basic things we would need to know, answered any questions we had, and then encouraged the parents to leave.
What? Leave?? This was orientation day. I thought we were going to stay for the entire morning. I felt David’s hand on my shoulder as the teacher went over the last few bits of information she had for us. He knew I’d explode into a ball of emotion in about .8 seconds. Without him around I probably would have been bawling on the walk to school. I went over to Tatum, told her it was time for the parents to leave so she could begin her first day of school, and gave her a big hug. She didn’t seem phased at all that we were leaving, so I was very relieved about that. David gave her a hug and a kiss, and as we walked out the door I threw my sunglasses on and let the tears fall.
I cried because I know my Tatum has such a tender heart. She believes everyone she meets is her best friend. I know that a time is going to come when she is hurt by a friend or a bully, and I don’t want my sweet little girl to feel sad. I cried because our routine that we have had for four years together will completely change. Our days together will be more rushed and will have more scurrying to and from school and activities. It won’t be the same relaxed mornings of music, baking together and going to the park any time we feel like it. I cried because I’m just not ready for her to be growing up yet, even though I pretend as though I understand it’s a part of life and it happens whether we are ready or not, and that I’m ok with it.
I’m telling myself that this is the beginning of her becoming her own person. I have to remember that she will have to experience the unhappy and disappointing parts of growing up. I have to remember it’s our job as parents to slowly phase ourselves out, so that she’s able to function on her own. It’s our job to encourage her to be independent. I have to remember that it will be important for her to experience things on her own, and that one day I will most likely have to drop her off a block away from school.
But I also have to remember that it’s only preschool, and she’s still my baby for now