My oldest son started Kindergarten today.
I knew that I would be nostalgic, when the time came. Nostalgic because his babyhood is now behind us, and childhood proper is beginning.
The truth is, I always figured I would prefer this stage – the “big kid” stage. I’m not really a baby person, or at least I wasn’t before. It’s always different with your own kids, though.
But that doesn’t mean it isn’t hard to see my first child off to school today- to usher him into this new chapter in his life.
And what I’m realizing now is that, as much as I’m ushering him along, he’s ushering me along. I’m moving into my next chapter at the same time as he’s moving into his.
They grow, we grow.
This is a part of parenting I hadn’t really understood before.
Of course our job as parents is to help our children grow up – to help them develop themselves, shedding their old skin and fitting comfortably into their new skin, little by little.
We are there every step to make sure that our kids can outgrow themselves, and become strong, surer versions of who they are. We are there to see to it every day that they are making little strides toward independence, toward emotional health, toward an awareness of themselves and of others.
Brush your teeth.
Wait your turn.
Take a deep breath and calm down.
Say I’m sorry.
We know that’s our job as parents.
What I hadn’t given much thought to was the ways in which the daily act of parenting also ushers us along, into one phase and then the next.
We grow right along with our kids.
Today was the first day of school for my son. But it was also the first day of this new phase of my life as a parent of a school-aged child.
No wonder I had the jitters.
Just as my little boy now has a new set of expectations on him, so do I.
There will be homework and sports teams. There will be the challenge of navigating a whole new social realm; one that’s not comprised of just the children of my own friends, but which will bring in the parents of my son’s friends.
There will be a tighter schedule to follow and far less days to spend at our whim.
Being on the playground this morning with all of the other parents – it reminded me a little of freshmen orientation in college. There is an uncertainty to it.
Where should I stand? Who do I talk to? Do I have everything I need? Does my son have everything he needs?
Maybe that’s the great thing about getting to raise kids.
We think of ourselves as grown, just to learn, over and over, that we aren’t.