Nathan's first day of preschool is tomorrow. He's been going to daycare for over two years now but this is very different. Daycare is playtime with some snacks and naps sprinkled in. Preschool, on the other hand, is for the big kids. Part of me (the mom part) refuses to believe that my son is a "big kid."
He'll be riding the school bus from his daycare to the elementary school down the road 4 days a week for 3 hours a day. I reminded him today that he'll be riding the school bus tomorrow and the response that I got was something of an excited squeal that was cut short by an uncontrollable, almost hysterical, fit of giggles.
Yes, he's that excited.
And he should be. Nathan loves to learn new things. He's going to thrive there. I will not be surprised if he starts reading soon. I was writing his name on his backpack tonight and he stood next to me naming each letter as I wrote it and then proceeded to tell me that "N-A-T-H-A-N spells Nathan" in a very matter-of-fact way.
(Here's where the mom thing kicks in.)
The obvious response is, "That's great! You know your letters!" Which is exactly what I told him. But, inside, I was secretly wishing that I could shrink him back down to baby size, change his diaper and rock him while I fed him a bottle.
I was reading a friend's blog tonight and it hit me: this is what the rest of my life is going to be like.
A series of emotional highs and lows all rolled into one. It all starts at birth and the first few milestones happen quickly. Smiling, laughing, rolling, crawling, walking. The milestones slow down after that, but it seems that the further apart they are, the bigger they are. The first day of school, first birthday party, first sleepover, first girlfriend, driver's license, first job, graduation, college, marriage, babies. . .
And the emotions only increase exponentially with each child you have. When Lily rolled over I didn't just watch her roll over. In my mind, I watched Nathan roll over for the first time, too. When Nathan put his backpack on, I had an image flash through my head of Lily in curly pigtails striking the same pose three years from now.
Only a parent can understand how bittersweet it is to watch your child grow up. The overwhelming joy and sorrow that you feel when you realize that a page has turned and things will never be the same again.
I look at Nathan and I know that he's ready for more. I know that I can't hold him back. It's not fair to him. So I will smile tomorrow and be excited with him and find comfort in the fact that he is ready.
That's all we can do as parents, isn't it? Make sure that they're ready. Ready for whatever comes their way. We find a way to guide them gently without taking the reins. We even learn how to let them fall sometimes and, harder still, learn how to sit back and let them pick themselves up.
He's not a baby anymore. I know that he is ready for this. If I hold him back to satisfy my own maternal need it will do him more harm than good.
It's not "just preschool." This is his first adventure without me there beside him. But, I will be there at the end of the day to hear all about it.
He's ready. And, like it or not, so am I.