“We’d like to move Sophia into the downstairs class next week. She’s been doing really well and she’s ready,” said the daycare owner.
My parental angst must have shown because she quickly said, “Would that be ok with you?”
“Umm, yea,” I agreed but inside a kernel of dread grew.
Despite my trepidation, Monday came and off to the new class we went. As I hung up her coat, Sophia assessed the room’s possibilities and asked, “Mommy, what do you want to play with?”
“I don’t know. What do you want to play with?” I responded. Sophia eagerly looked from the bin of Legos, to the girls amassed around a dollhouse, to racks of dress-up clothes. She swiped a pirate hat and plunked it on her head. “Mommy, you want to dress-up?”
“Ahh, Mommy has to go to work. Let’s see what’s going on over here,” I ushered her toward the table of kids slinging markers and contemplating the advantages of one block shape over another.
She slid right into the thick of activity, eyes bright with curiosity – probably wondering about the best way to steal the purple marker from a boy brandishing it as a sword.
My heart pounded with pride as I watched my firstborn weave into the rhythm of this new routine. I thought about what an amazing little person she’s become and patted myself on the back.
I ducked out of the room and into the parking lot. As I thought about my baby growing up, the kernel of dread that had flowered into pride was replaced by a withering sense of loss.
When I was pregnant with my first, every mom said, “It goes so fast. You have to enjoy it while you can.” Logically, I understood. But, like labor, there’s really no way to relate until you’ve been through it.
Now I can see that what those moms meant was, “You may feel relief to be past midnight wailing, cracked nipples, and diapers but saying bye-bye to babyhood is bittersweet.”