Every year about this time I get seriously messed up. Like an emotionally distraught, unbalanced, wacked out crazy woman. I swing madly between bouts of hysterical laughter and inconsolable weeping. I cling. I let go. I rejoice. I grieve. I sigh with mad soul-searing love and with deep, cleaving pain.
It is nearing the end of my children’s school year. And every year at the end of the school year I sort of lose my mind during the transition. This is normal, right? Back me up here, fellow crazy parents.
Because it is even worse this year.
It is worse because my baby is nearly done with preschool. We are nearing the official “graduation” day from her safe, clean, well-funded, inspiring, inspired, cozy little school. And she will be entering kindergarten.
This is a good thing for many practical reasons. She is bored with preschool and ready for a new challenge. It will simplify our family’s routine and my schedule. She will have fun and learn and meet new friends. We are happy with the school she will attend. We know she will have good teachers and a positive learning environment.
But it breaks my heart to say good-bye to the perfect little school that has nurtured both of our daughters for so many years. And it hurts even more to ponder the significance of the transition in my little one’s life and in mine.
I’m not exaggerating to say that it physically hurts my chest, like I can’t breathe, when I sit still and allow myself to seriously ponder the tiny little girl who originally rode in the baby sling every day to take her big sister to kindergarten, so many years ago. My heart pounds right now as I write this. And this pain fills me with conflict. Of course we want our babies to grow and thrive. We don’t want the opposite, do we?
Of course I love nothing more than to see my girls shine and blossom and climb high and play fierce and live big.
But these transitions are also wrought with sadness. It reminds me of my own mortality. Of the inevitable nature of change, that life flows on whether we are ready for it or not. That we must focus on the joy of these changes for the sake of the beautiful lives that lay out before our children, wrought with glittering possibility. This is not about me, with all of my flailing mood swings and self-absorbed assholery. This is about them.
And just like when I grieve for my baby, I ache with love for my big girl too. When my precious first born cuts her hair short “like punk rock style” and tries to act cool around boys and says she is safe enough to be out of my sight at the big playground in Golden Gate Park and declares that she no longer likes for me to walk her into her classroom at school…well, I want to grab her and metaphorically stuff her back into the womb. But, again, it is not about me.
It hurts to let our babies go. But it hurts even more to hold them back. As if we even have a choice. Like it or not, they are on their way. And all we can do is grab ahold of their soft little hands for as long as they let us, hearts swelling with pride and nostalgia, tears swallowed.