You never think when you give birth to a child time will fly by and you will soon be putting that baby on a school bus. In the beginning the days and nights seem to mix together, and you just want sleep. You just want them to sleep more, eat more, do whatever it takes for them to sleep. The first year as parents you are just so eager to see them meet all those milestones, and then with the next years there are stages you just want to end. Quick. But as hard as those stages were, I never once wished them away. I tried my damned hardest to embrace them because I didn't want my babies to grow up. I love me some babies...
Last year when we moved to Virginia and made the decision to homeschool Mairead for Kindergarten, it was bittersweet. I felt at times I was "robbing" her of that "Kindergarten" experience, but then I quickly reminded myself that Kindergarten was not like it used to be. I was thankful to not be putting her on that bus and keeping her "little" for just a little while longer. For the most part, I enjoyed homeschooling the older girls. I loved that satisfaction of seeing our children learn and grow and succeed in new things. I loved being able to experience things that children in school couldn't experience. I loved the fact we were able bake cookies together yet make it into a math problem, or reading recipes. It worked. And somedays I do miss it.
When Mairead learned we'd be moving back to Maine, she asked if she'd be going back to school. She was adamant, so we agreed, and said we would let her try going to school. Not sure why I ever thought that it would be a great idea.
Today is that day. I thought I'd be ready. But how could my sweet little Mairead be ready to go to 1st grade? Starting today, she will be away from me all day, Monday through Friday. I am not like most parents at the end of summer - I am dreading this. I want her to stay little. I love having her home with me. All of our children bring something so special to our family that when one of them isn't here, it feels like something...someone is missing. I secretly wanted her to tell me she wanted to stay home and be with us, but that isn't what she wants. She is ready to fly from our nest, at least for now, and try new things. Be adventurous. Ready to make new friends. Learn a new way of life. Be a big kid riding the bus. And going to a "real" school. It makes me feel good knowing that we've tried homeschooling our children, and it works and that our children will always have that option of being homeschooled. Kevin and I have dreams of sailing the caribbean with our children, and homeschooling them on a boat when he retires from the Coast Guard or living in Hawaii for Kevin's last tour with the Coast Guard before retirement. I hope our children can experience all different environments of learning, and that the traditional classroom setting isn't the only option today. I love how homeschooling promotes family life, and being together, working together.
I know Mairead is ready to be in school and she is such an eager learner. She impressed her new teacher yesterday during her assessment of what an amazing reader she is, and I know she will continue to show her teacher all of the amazing things she has to offer - her eagerness to learn, make new friends, make people feel good, her sweetness and her love. I am ready for her to be independent, and learn that her mommy and daddy aren't the only ones who ask things of her, ask her to follow rules and expect her to follow our rules. I have no doubt Mairead will be a great student and her teacher is so very lucky to have her - just as lucky as I was to have had Mairead for her Kindergarten.
And just as I thought, Mairead stepped on that bus with so much confidence, barely looking back. Kevin and I kept calling her name to remind her that we were still there, wanting her to say good-bye. The day went on, with that puzzle piece feeling misplaced, realizing just how much we enjoyed homeschooling Mairead. The last hour before she came home just dragged on. Lilah kept asking when her big sister would be coming home. Lilah missed her. And so did I. We all left for school to pick her up, and she came running to us with a smile on her face. She said she had a good day. She told us a little bit about it - though she doesn't get into specifics. She played with her friends and ate lunch with them, too. She likes her teacher. And wants to go back again tomorrow.
...and tomorrow Lilah starts preschool. I can handle three mornings a week....I wish Mairead went three mornings a week, too.