I’ve never been one of those moms who cried at milestones. I’ve looked forward to the first solid food, the first steps, the first loose tooth, and even the first day of school. It’s hard not to be excited when your kids are absolutely
desperate to escape you and each otherover the moon at the thought of seeing their friends after nearly two months of traveling.
But something’s just a bit different this year. Not only are we 6,000 miles away from where this picture was taken on Gabriel’s first day of kindergarten in Colorado last year, but this year, Lily starts school too. That’s right. As of 8:45 this morning, I’m sort of an empty-nester. The International School doesn’t have a half day option for kindergarten, so Lily will be joining Gabriel at school five full days per week. Besides catching up on the 800 blog posts I’ve been meaning to write about our amazing summer, I’m a bit at loose ends. Maybe it’s because the kids have been with me pretty much around the clock since early June. Maybe it’s because it seems impossible to me that my baby is actually a five year old who managed to lose her first tooth and teach herself to read this summer. And did I mention that’s she’s grown?
Here she is at Kindergarten orientation, just as calm and grown-up as can be. You can read my thoughts on Lily turning five to learn more about what a challenging kid she can sometimes be, but suffice it to say Matt & I are both shocked AND thrilled that Lily has grown up to be such a resilient, adaptable little girl. It’s not like we haven’t thrown a lot at her with this move to Finland from different foods to learning the ropes of public transportation to jumping right into a Finnish preschool, as Gabriel enjoyed the relative familiarity of International School.
Gabriel, as always, amazes me with bursts of maturity that give me a glimpse of the big boy struggling to emerge. Today, as I walked them in to school, he assured me that I could just drop them off at the curb and that he’d walk his sister to her class so she didn’t get lost. My heart melted just a little bit, but Lily also squeezed my hand, her unspoken request that I stay with her for just a few minutes before sending her off to her first day of school.
And that’s the fine balance of parenting, isn’t it: Knowing when to let go and also recognizing when hanging on for just a few more minutes will give them the little boost they need to make it the rest of the way on their own.
So I’ll totally get back to writing those blog posts and working on the novel and all those Big Important Things I always seem to worry about. But not today. Today, I’m going to hang out, enjoy the peace and quiet, and reflect a bit on the last seven years (seven years!) of my parenting journey. Truth be told, I think I’m the one who hit the milestone today…