Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Beginnings and Bittersweet Endings

Written by, Bernadyn Nettles


  Starting Preschool and New Baby

Last fall we welcomed our newest and fourth addition to our family, Lyla Brielle, our baby girl.   We knew a newborn meant new beginnings and changes for our family.   One of those changes was to place our then three year old son, Brody, in preschool that fall.   It would only be part-time, two days a week and then one day a week for an hour to participate in TOT basketball.  

Making Adjustments to Our Lives as Parents of Two Kids

I remember dropping him off just a week after Lyla was born.   I remember walking into his classroom with him that first day so we could meet his teacher together.   I remember that first day of saying good-bye to him like it was yesterday.

He was happy to be there at first, seeing all the new toys and books.   He was outgoing and talkative, asking his teacher question after question and bragging about his new baby sister. Moments later, however, his energy began to dim when he noticed the other children walking in alone without their moms and dads.  

First Day of Preschool

He turned away from the cars he was playing with and swiftly walked toward me as I attempted to disappear out the door.   He disappeared instead, becoming silent and invisible behind my legs.   He ignored the teacher as she tried to coax him to join the rest of the class and he just kept shaking his head 'no' every time I tried to remove his powerful grip from my pants.   More students filled the class so I knew I needed to make my exit but I was also torn about leaving my little boy there who was scared and did not understand why he was in school where Mommy couldn’t stay.

I don’t remember exactly how it happened but he must have let go from his static cling on me for a second, allowing me to escape out the class room door into the hallway.   I let out my breath thinking that I made it out without a meltdown from him.   I knew it was too good to be true when I heard that heart-breaking cry a second later from down the hall. 

My little boy yelled, “Mommmmyy!”  He was crying and I knew he could see me with my back turned walking away from him.   I felt awful.   I heard his teacher trying to get him back into the class. 

Letting Go: The Hardest Part of Being a Parent


Those few short seconds were all it took for the tears that I was desperately holding in to finally spill over.

The drive home was a blur, literally, since I was crying and had to keep wiping my eyes to see the road.   My lack of sleep from caring for a newborn and all the mixed up hormones from just having a baby made me feel extra emotional along with the guilty feeling that I was abandoning my first child to care for my second.  

I remember coming back home with the baby who was asleep and just looking around Brody’s room.   It felt empty and too quiet.   The tears started again.  Those three hours away at his first day of school were tough for me to get through.   I know three hours doesn't seem like a lot but it was a big change for both of us and my hormones were all over the place!  I kept hoping he got over it quicker than I did after I left. 
When it was time for me to pick him up I felt relieved and so excited to see him.   I remember his face lit up when he saw my car.   He yelled, “Mommy!” again and this time I was so happy to hear it.   I remember thinking, “Yay! He doesn’t hate me!”   The teacher holding his hand said, “I told you Mommies have to come back.”   I could tell he was relieved, too. He nodded his head as if he finally believed her.


Surviving the First Year of School


Now, almost eight months later, Brody has finished his first year of preschool.   His last day was last Thursday along with a Spring Program for the parents to watch.   It was adorable to see them all on stage, dressed in church attire, singing and waving to their parents, grandparents and siblings.   Brody looked so handsome and confident.   

The children were smiling and I only saw one child run off stage crying before it all started.
When it all ended, however, was another story…that is, for the parents.   There were tears and misty eyes as we watched our little ones walk off stage, happy and proud from gaining a year’s worth of more knowledge and growth.   They may not have understood that, of course but that was the message I received from watching them!  For me, I saw a glimpse into Brody’s future; the day he would walk off stage after his high school graduation and hopefully after earning his college degree.


Growing Up   


I am a proud mom every day but was even prouder on that day as well as a bit heart broken. I realized what it really meant to let go as you watch your kids grow because with every milestone equals a step out of the baby days, the toddler days and eventually out of childhood.   I know that's what is supposed to happen and I want my children to grow into fully independent functioning adults but it doesn’t mean it will be a little sad and hard on our hearts as parents.   

The director of Brody’s preschool told us, “the way a mama duck builds her nest is not by gathering twigs and leaves but by plucking her own feathers.”   I guess we are not much different from ducks when it comes to sacrificing for our children and giving pieces of ourselves to them including a big chunk of our hearts.

Bittersweet Moments

I am sure that it is bittersweet for those teachers and staff that take care of our children, too. It must be tough on them knowing that they will say good-bye year after year to those same kids they fall in love with at the start of the school season.

I have learned to expect these proud and emotional feelings after watching Brody complete his first few performances and first year in school.   He is now four and there will be more milestones he will conquer and I know I need to expect the same from our daughter.   

Our baby girl will be eight months tomorrow and has been teething.   She has one bottom tooth showing and the next is soon to follow.   Thus, she too has reached one of her big milestones… good-bye gummy smile. We are definitely sad to see that precious toothless grin disappear. She is already showing signs of crawling and standing so we know it is only a matter of time before she also leaves for that first day of school, the day we say good-bye to one chapter to start the beginning of another.   She will most likely be daddy’s girl by then so this time I’ll be sure that her daddy will be the one to drop her off that first day. 

Yes, I agree, what a cruel thing to do! 

Did you feel the same on your child's first day of school?  Share in the comments below, I'd love to hear your thoughts! 

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