On leaving preschool

preschoolThis morning as I dropped Lucille off at preschool I stopped in the hallway to refill her water bottle. I have to admit I felt pretty smug not because I had convinced someone to give me a million dollars or because I was neatly, crisply dressed. I was smug because Iremembered the water bottle. And the snowpants. All in one day.

 

I know. It was as amazing as it sounds.

As I put her relatively clean (it had been in the car all night) water bottle on the shelf with all of the other water bottles that other mothers had remembered, I thought I’ve done it. I’ve finally come prepared for preschool. It’s only taken four years.

Lucille is in her last year of preschool, a sweet, idyllic place where her sister went for two years before her. In a few short months we will all graduate from this place where even the adults address each other as friend. I’m a little stunned at how fast those four years went, at how much has changed in that time and at how big, oh how big, my babies have grown.

I was a bit broken when Eliza started preschool four years ago. I’d been sick and I was just hanging on emotionally, trying to catch up to all that had happened when it was time to pack her first lunch, walk her to circle and leave her there for an entire day. The day felt so long. And I so needed the break of only having one child to care for.

There is some theory about holding two seemingly contradictory thoughts as true at the same time and that’s exactly how I felt then. It’s exactly how I feel now. If only I had known then how familiar that push-pull, yin-yang, your-needs-my-needs, feeling would become. I’m starting to think it is the very definition of motherhood.

But at preschool, I didn’t have to do any of this grappling alone. That first year there were teachers there who would hold my child, walk her to the goodbye window so I could wave through tears and let me go home and sleep. The next year those same teachers helped me navigate Eliza’s budding independence and talked me through my rough spots as she started to defy gender norms. And those same teachers helped Lucille build houses out of paper and pulled her out of her little sister shell. She has a strong voice now, in part, because we all showed her she could use it.

I have been talking a lot lately about how earth shattering I will be for Eliza and Lucille to be at the same school. Logistics simplified. But it will not be without a heavy sadness that we will walk out the doors of preschool for the last time. I really am not sure what I’ll do without the barometer of the teachers who have held my hand as much as they’ve held the hands of daughters.

But, soon, it will be time to take Lucille’s clothes off her hook, grab the water bottle that it took me four years to remember, fold up her blanket and go. I hope I’ll be ready to do all of this when the time comes because right now I want a few more thankful circles, a few more moments, warm and hazy, where my daughter is celebrated for being kind and creative.