The End of Preschool, for Now

Today was my daughter’s last day of preschool. It was wholly unceremonious and without emotion. In part because the actual “end of year” ceremony happened on Tuesday but because of the ridiculous amount of snow we got up here this winter, today was an optional make-up day filled with bubbles and informal structure.

I thought I’d have a harder time with this end-of-an-era. With my oldest finally passing through her early formative years and on to the school-aged stage. But the truth is, we’re ready!

I’ve found these past five years of early motherhood pretty lonely. As a hopeless extrovert, weekly playgroups, 45-minute music classes, open gyms, monthly parenting lectures and cruising local playgrounds never provided the fixes I sought.

I can’t tell you how many times over the past five years I’ve encountered moms that I thought seemed cool and wished I could get to know. But exchanging digits at a playground is kinda creepy and it never results in anything. Playgrounds have replaced the bars of my college days.

When my daughter was 18 months, she started attending a toddler program one morning a week then two mornings the next year and so on up to four by preschool. I thought, surely, entering into a school-like setting would be the answer to my lack of community. It wasn’t.

The toddler program felt more like structured childcare, where time-starved mothers dashed in and out between errands. Preschool was a little better, offering occasional family events throughout the year but still lacked a sense of invested community.

I guess it was sometime back in the late-fall, when I had a peptic moment contemplating homeschool, it struck me that the days of having total control over my child’s life, activities and schedule were drawing nigh. That’s when I got nostalgic; that’s when I dealt with the emotions every mother goes through when her child reaches a major milestone.

But not today, and not yesterday either, when she completed her waldkindergarten program and did the bridge ceremony.

Perhaps it’s because I know that in a year or two my second child is likely to follow in these same footsteps or perhaps it’s just that the time has truly arrived when we’re each ready for the next step. We’re excited for kindergarten, we’re ready to get involved, we’re curious about the new playgrounds, bake sales, field days, PTA!

Somehow kindergarten seems like a really Big Kid step but I know I’ll look back soon and be nostalgic about it. In the same way that I’m sure I’ll feel pangs of longing for these fleeting days of preschool. For now, we’re dashing headfirst into our summer, nary looking back and not a tear in our eyes.

Did you know there are 99 days from Memorial Day to Labor Day? Guess who’s crying now?!

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8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. eg
    Jun 10, 2011 @ 09:32:19

    Motherhood is so isolating, despite being surrounded by little people. My “mommy friends’ aren’t necessarily people whose paths I’d cross outside the playground (which is both good and bad–it broadens my circle, but we usually don’t discuss non-mommy moments). I think the key is to try try try to maintain some sort of community that isn’t child-related, hard as it may be. Easier said than done!

    Reply

  2. Caitlin
    Jun 10, 2011 @ 09:33:53

    I was just talking with Liz this weekend about not finding these mysterious “mommy friends.” I thought it was because I’m not social, but that clearly ain’t you’re problem.
    Again the outdoor school looks FABULOUS. Something that will seep into her bones, I think. I remember the first day of most things, not the last.

    Reply

    • growingmuses
      Jun 22, 2011 @ 23:10:17

      indeed, mommy friends ARE mysterious! But then aren’t all friends? You think you know someone and then pow! You find out something really surprising. Or you think you want to know someone and then you discover you don’t really have that much in common (perhaps aside from mutually aged kids) after all. With the mommy friends, the whole friendship can be in the balance based on parenting styles: “I like you and your kid a lot but not Hanna Montana and definitely not chewing gum, sorry, find another friend….” Not to mention when your kids either totally dislikes a kid whose mom you think you’d become great pals with or vice versa, likes a kid and you abhor the mom…ah the complexity!

      Reply

  3. slightlywonky
    Jun 10, 2011 @ 17:49:23

    Ella was so lucky to have such an amazing preschool experience! I would imagine that the kindergarten community will be stronger than the preschool one. Congratulations to her on her big milestone!

    Reply

    • growingmuses
      Jun 22, 2011 @ 23:04:41

      Ironically, the “big milestone” felt wholly anticlimactic. I’ve seen numerous friends posting pictures on Fb from their own children’s preschool graduations. I swore I thought the whole cap and gown thing was way over the top but it is a milestone, it is a significant mark of the end of the formative years and the beginning of the official school days. I guess a little more ceremony or acknowledgement from the school would have felt right to me. Instead, just and all student performance and then a dispersing of families felt hollow. I’m glad I also had the Forest Gnomes bridge ceremony to celebrate. The two combined made up for neither one being quite what I needed. Ella, on the other hand, is completely nonplussed by it all. On to summer, right?!

      Reply

  4. Wendy Lawrence
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 22:31:04

    I was drawn to your thought about how at some point we stop controlling everything in their lives. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately as my three year old comes home from school talking about things and telling me stories that don’t come from me. Things whose origin I don’t know or understand. Was it a lesson? A comment from a friend? A song in music? Where did he learn this?! It’s such a shocking change from my littler one, whose every molecule still comes only from me, as he has yet to eat anything other than my own milk. I’m a far cry from a college graduation, and a less far cry from a preschool one, but I can still feel it, still feel the pulling away that is their independence. They start out completely perfect and blank and life gives them bumps, scrapes, and stories along the way. It is beautiful and sad and miraculous all at the same time.

    Reply

    • growingmuses
      Jun 22, 2011 @ 23:00:07

      Wendy, thanks for your comments and I’m sorry for my delayed reply. Many days go by lately where I wonder who this five year old I’m raising is. Some of the stings she comes out with, the tones she uses with her younger brother and her shear attitude and independence are a wonderment to me. I ask, is it nurture? is it nature? My two-year old is still so sweet and innocent, will school alter him in the same way? will his older sister? We can’t hold on forever and in many ways I feel like mine is a constant push out of the nest, onto the branch and into the air. What IS the right balance?

      Reply

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