Last week, I took Curly to what will be his school in the fall. He's my baby, my little mini-me. He is the funniest kid, who says the funniest things. I love getting to spend my afternoons and Fridays with him, while his older brothers, Moe and Larry, are at school. I thought I was looking forward to Curly heading off to the big K, and moving into the next phase of motherhood completely. Stepping into the school years with both feet.
But as I watched him run excitedly down the hall toward the K classroom, with Mrs. K (appropriately enough) while I sat in the meeting room with the other K parents and the principal, it hit me that maybe I'm not quite as ready as I thought I was. Oh, sure, it sounds lovely to have the WHOLE DAY to myself to finally sort out whatever is in those boxes in the back of the basement, to go running whenever I feel like it instead of when I can fit it in, to actually keep up with laundry and grocery shopping, to spend a whole afternoon on the deck reading a book.
But....Curly is my buddy. We hang out. We talk. We watch Veggie Tales and we build Lego space ships and race cars. We go to the mall sometimes for Auntie Anne's pretzels and lunch in the food court, or to Barnes and Noble to share a chocolate chip cookie and play with the trains in the kids' section.
He went in for the assessment that measures his readiness to begin kindergarten. Does he know his phone number and his address? Can he write his name? Does he know the difference between upper case and lower case? Can he hop on one foot and play catch? Does he interact with other kids easily?
He's way ready, Mrs. K assures me. A bright and funny boy. His preschool teachers assure me he's well ready and will have no problem transitioning to all-day school.
I've never been the type of mom to bemoan and mourn the passing of stages. I know some moms who are sad at their children's birthday parties because it all went too fast. I know some moms who, at every milestone, have said something like, "Stop growing up so fast!" And let me be clear, I'm not knocking them or being critical at all. That's just not my style.
I loved the baby years, as hard as they were sometimes, and there is nothing that can ever beat the smell of a newborn fresh out of the bath. I stayed awake to watch them breathe. I marveled watching their eyelashes grow in, and treasured every single gummy grin. I counted every tooth and cheered the first steps. But I didn't cry because they were growing up too fast. I didn't cry putting Moe and Larry onto the bus for the first time. I loved watching them be nervous about it, and do it anyway, that sense of accomplishment they got from just doing it anyway.
I have really been enjoying watching them change from babies who I adored cuddling and feeding and carrying, to boys who can run with me, who I can kick a soccer ball with or throw a football with, and who can reason and have a conversation about why the leaves change color or why our flag is important and why we should show respect. I am so digging watching them turn into the people they are growing up to be. It's pretty amazing.
But still. Curly is my baby.
And while he's raring to go, ready to spread his little wings and fly off to kindergarten with circle time and snack time and weekly Mass and rest time in the afternoons, it's a little harder for me this time.
It's not quite time yet. He hasn't finished preschool and we still have the whole summer to play. But I also have the sense of something coming to an end, of days being numbered.
His readiness is no longer in question.
But, I think mine might be.