Friday was my youngest’s last day of kindergarten. I was in such a hurry with thank-you cards to write, snacks to pack, checks to fill out and forms to drop off, that I didn’t take a minute, even a second, to grasp the enormity of what this means.
I’ve been waiting nine years for this. To get my time back, my life back. Next year we enter a new phase. And like it or not, this exhausting one has come to an end.
She never asked me to stay home. I chose it. I wanted it. But it wasn’t easy, and I wasn’t good at it. Sure, we had moments: we snuggled, we read books, we went to Target, got juice and sat in the cafe.
But too often I left her alone with the television, I let her play on the computer so I could talk on the phone. I ordered in friends so I wouldn’t have to play with her. I melted cheese over taco chips and called it “lunch.”
I wish I had been more attentive. I wish I hadn’t secretly been bored, tired, lonely, isolated and sometimes resentful. I didn’t feel that way all the time, but certainly enough to push the boundaries of the “I’m only human” excuse. But despite it all, despite coming verrrrry close to the edge, I’m going to miss this phase.
I’ll miss our walks to school. Just the two of us. No matter how much chaos happened over lost shoes, warm coats and clean teeth, once we stepped out on the driveway, things changed. The walk centered us. She seemed so little on those walks, I’d watch her ponytail bounce and I’d shiver with gratitude.
She’d reach for my hand — her little fingers skimming my palm and curling around my fingers. She wasn’t even aware she’d done it. But I was, every time. She needs me, she loves me, she wants me, she forgives me: I could feel it all in that little reach.
Next year she’ll walk to school with her hero, her big sister. She is elated over this, and I suspect I will be too. I hope I will be too.
Next year: Ahhhh yes or oh noooo?