This morning I wrote my last preschool tuition check—late, like just about all of them, but last. I started writing at Momalom when this soon-to-be kindergartener of mine was just about six months old. How did that happen?
The milestones keep coming, and we enjoy them and smile and remark about how it all goes really fast. It’s sad and it’s happy and if I dwell too long, it’s more sad than happy. I get a feeling in the pit of my stomach. The feeling that tells me I haven’t done enough. I should have had another baby. I would finally know what to do the fourth time around. The feeling that tells me that I haven’t enjoyed the moments enough. That I’ve focused too much on the constantly dirty floors and the piles of the laundry and the half-eaten apples on the kitchen counter.
But if I don’t dwell too much. If I move around just enough that the feeling doesn’t settle in the pit of my stomach, I can feel it instead move to my chest, my heart swelling with pride at this baby of mine, a baby no more. Like every mother lucky enough to witness this growing up of the children who carry them through their every day, there is nothing quite like pausing to look at this little person of yours and allow yourself to think back about the time when she was so much littler. (Like yesterday. Wasn’t she littler just yesterday? Really. Weren’t her pants long enough yesterday?!)
My children rely on me for a lot. Reasonably clean floors. Reasonably clean clothes to wear. Fruit that is not too bruised to eat. One of the secrets of parenting, though, is that I rely on them for more. That this more makes me a better person as each day passes and as the years add up, more birthday candles to buy at every turn. Every day being a mother makes me stronger. Kinder. More aware of my actions. More aware of my reactions. Every day my three children smile at me and roll their eyes at me. They grow and change. They challenge and frustrate. They fall and get back up. They soar, and I wipe away the tears. My tears. They still don’t understand the connection of tears to absolute joy.
Next year is the one year in this parenting gig that our three children will be attending the same school. This feels big. It feels like the beginning of another stage for all five of us. And I’m focusing on this, because the last check, as glad as I am to have come to the end of seven straight years of preschool payments, sure as heck feels like high-water pants and my baby going off into the world on her own. From the pit of my stomach to my hand clutching at tissues, I am happysad and in awe.Jen Writes, motherhood, three kids