Parenthood is a balancing act; that cliche is almost too easy. Yes, there are many balls in the air and sometimes one slips through and crashes to the ground. But, to keep the metaphor going, doesn't it always come bouncing back? If one day I just don't have my act together and maybe my kids watch a little more TV than usual, doesn't it always work out that the next day we never turn it on and spend the afternoon taking a nature walk or stumbling upon a used book store where I buy the kids ten new books for a buck? It's the yin and the yang of life, the balance, that keeps me sane. Otherwise I'd be guilt-ridden about the fact that we had ice cream twice this week, rather than shrugging and thinking, Well, hey, we'll go months without it in the winter. And that settles that. Our life has a nice balance to it. More than routine. An ebb and flow. A dynamic. A rhythm. I revel in it.
And just when our lives seem to be in perfect balance--Em is sleeping (with the help of four new teeth), Mommy and Daddy are finding time for each other and themselves, Jax is whining a little less and using his words to ask for help a little more--something shifts. Growing happens: growing up, outgrowing, growing independence. Whichever it is, it's happening, and somebody...
...is about to experience a change. Oh, it's gonna be good. But it'll be different, and throw off our balance a bit, nonetheless.
Jax has been accepted into preschool. Actually, it's pre-preschool, but it's still a school setting. Well, actually, it's pretty warm and fuzzy and child-centered. So it's really nothing like school. And did I mention I have to go with him? Have to, I say, like I'm upset about it. Like I'm secretly not doing jigs inside that he is still that little that he needs me to go with him to pre-preschool. That buying a little lunchbox/backpack and new shoes and sending him off will be a little bit easier because, well, I'm not sending him anywhere. I'm accompanying him, and although I'm supposed to be secondary to his teacher, who I know will soon be his favorite person on the planet, I'll still be there, just in case. And that's okay with me. It sits well with my personal sense of balanace, that keeps me toeing the line of treating him like a "big boy," and pulling him in my lap and cradling him like a baby. Because he's right on the cusp of big-boy-hood. And believe me, I know, there's no going back.
I won't go too far into the details of why we chose this exact preschool yet, but I will say that it's a Waldorf school, and that I put him on the waiting list days after attending the Winter Fair this past December and was officially smitten. If you weren't around for that post, I hugely recommend you go check it out, if only to glance at the photos and realize how enchanting a day it was, and to realize how quickly you would have put your two-year-old on the waiting list, too. It took six months, but Jax was cleared to attend Morning Garden there this fall, one morning a week, and I am torn between being so proud that he is ready to take that step and ready to cry that he is so darn big. But loving the school where we're sending him certainly helps ease the transition. Helps restore some semblance of balance to this mama's slightly anxious heart.
I was a public school teacher in my other life, educator in two high schools, one middle school, and one disaster of a charter school. I've been in nationally recognized Blue Ribbon schools and schools in Year 5 of Program Improvement according to No Child Left Behind. I have stood in front of Walmart with fliers begging parents to withdraw their children from the horrific public schools their children attend and to enroll them in my charter school (yes, that is how we spent our "free periods" and yes, that school lasted all of two weeks. Good thing those parents didn't listen to me!). So, I am familiar with public schools and their many advantages as well as their flaws. I am enrolling my son in a private preschool, where we would have to pay a heavy tuition if we continue his education there, but at this point in his development, I say it's worth it. I don't know if we'll continue with private school for our kids' entire education, but the skeptic teacher in me thinks it would be amazing. The public school graduate in me thinks that I went to public school and I turned out just fine, thankyouverymuch, and that money could be put to a lot better use right now in other places. So we'll see. No pressure for the moment. Just trying to balance what is piling onto today's particular plate. No need to think about the future. At this particular moment.
This quote is from the letter I received from Jax's teacher, and it resonated with me, at this moment in my parenting journey:
'Parenting is a journey--a spiritual journey--a path of transformation...for which we are rarely ever prepared. Remember the moment your heart stirred for your child with affection different than you ever experienced before?...At that moment, perhaps you recognized that your life as you knew it was dramatically changed forever. And that thought held both joy and trepidation.'
That is exactly where I stand with Jax right now. Still so small and so my baby, and yet, not. Growing and learning and heading off to school! With me, yes. One morning a week, yes. But still, going. The balance of our weeks and mornings will be different. Our routine and rhythm will change. Once a week we will rush and hurry out the door, to make lunch, to drop Em off with Nana, to make it to school on time. No more leisurely wake up calls in Mama's bed, rolling out and having breakfast when we're ready. Am I ready to make this transition? Am I ready to let him grow? I am and I will. I know I will. But it hurts my heart a little to see him so big and to know that, one day, the baby in my baby boy will be gone. I knew my life would be changed forever by my kids; I just didn't realize it was going to change dramatically again and again and again.
Guess I'll have to learn to regain my balance.
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