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My Love/Hate Feelings About This Last Year Before Kindergarten

back to school photo leaving for kindergarten

My oldest is entering his first year of real preschool. His last year before kindergarten.

Let's be honest, moms of littles: we get through the sleepless nights, toddler tantrums, potty training, diaper changing, and general gnashing and wailing because the light at the end of the tunnel is...kindergarten.

This insanity won't last forever.

One glorious day, you will drop them off and go to Target alone. Like a person. With free hands. And probably skip through the aisles and sip lattes at your leisure.

We get through keeping our eyes on the prize. Kindergarten.


Feeling Excitement + Melancholy About Back to School

Entering our last year before kindergarten, I feel the excitement but also a melancholy. I feel like I'm grasping at the wind, trying to recapture wasted moments or drag out these final days with my tiny boy.

When I go get him in the morning, the first thing he says is, "Oh! Hi, Mom," and he curls up in his rocker recliner with me. The recliner I used to nurse him to sleep as a newborn. Now this long lanky little man curls himself up in an awkward ball in my lap, resting his head on my chest as we rock together, the first few moments of every morning. And the last few minutes of every night.

We call it "cozy." Our "cozy" time.

Looking at his rapidly lengthening frame, I long for the roundness of his baby belly to return, to pull him back in time to the chubby toddler I once held.

Yet all too often, there are nights I can't put him to bed fast enough, mornings when kindergarten can't come quick enough, when those days of freedom seem all too distant and the tests of today never ending.

I notice it most during our evening "cozy" time, the strange juxtaposition of reaching for the past but longing for the future. He curls up in my lap, ready for bed, and I enter the roller coaster ride of emotions.

One moment, he sweetly whispers, "You are just so nice. I love you."

I pretty much die.

Then the questions start. Nonsense questions about snake worms and yogurt on the moon, and I feel my patience and sanity slowly slipping away. Then the "why?" - "Why?" - "WHY?" begins, and I start to wonder if I'm going to make it an entire year of THIS? Because these questions are ridiculous, and this "cozy" is not cozy in the slightest, with the constant talking and fidgeting and elbowing me in the gut.

I speed bedtime along, we pray and read and sing as quickly as humanly possible, and I tell him just one more minute of "cozy" time.

Then, he gets still.

So still and sweet and delicious.

I can feel him get heavy and tired in my arms. Holding my hand, nuzzling my neck. He's breathing in his mama and her love, and I'm breathing in him and his. How can I ever send him anywhere? How can this be it? What day will it be, because I know it's coming? The last "cozy" day. It'll probably be right around when he starts kindergarten.

Embracing the Practice of Letting Go While Still Holding On

My heart breaks at the thought of him moving on from me, from this time, the two of us together. Yet I'm excited for what's in store for me, for both of us, as we explore our freedom separately.

It's a peculiar and painful tension--grasping and reaching and longing in two separate directions of time. Riding the tidal wave of tender moments and tumultuous battles.

That tension probably won't change much come kindergarten, or even college. It's probably just parenthood, period.

All I know is this year is going to be rough. Full of pulling away and tearing apart as my boy gets bigger and this mom reluctantly allows him to do just that.

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