My kiddo won’t be going to school until next Fall, but in the Bay Area, preschool shopping starts EARLY. I’m talking, some people have the wherewithal to put their names on waitlists when they get pregnant kind of early.
I’ve never managed to be that organized. I’m more of an organic and intuitive decision-maker (read: procrastinator). I like to see how the chips fall, what life is like, what it feels like. Even doing preschool tours a year in advance feels insane to me. But I’ve gotten wise that if I don’t do it now, there might not be a spot for him anywhere and I’m not going to let that happen. So my option has been to do the tour circuit.
At the start of this preschool adventure, I didn’t really know what I wanted for my kiddo. As much as intuition helps me, so does information. I like to read up and have a general, if not advanced understanding of something before I decide to do it.
I’ve learned the lingo, the background on approaches from play-based to Waldorf to Montessori to forest schools to Spanish immersion. My head spinning as I attempt to suss out the differences in philosophies, approaches, teaching styles.
Still, the information only gets me so far. I have found that I can logically appreciate a theory or philosophy, but it has to line up with that feeling of magic. The click. I hadn’t had that moment.
Not until today.
Today, from the moment I walked through the gate, I felt the thing. The beginnings of a sparkle. I saw the perfect balance of organized freedom, which I’m just realizing is my whole parenting aesthetic. As the tour went on and the director explained their approach and I saw happy, smiling kids running from here to there, walls heavy with art, teachers engaged and nurturing, I teared up.
It’s not that I haven’t seen this at the other places I’ve toured, but there was something different, something special about this one.
Suddenly I had visions of my kiddo running, playing, learning there. Thriving. My heart squeezed. I had found it.
In some ways, this particular school doesn’t make perfect sense. It’s a bit of a drive, when there are several preschools that are walkable from my house. It’s a bit run down, not pristine or new by any means. But, this is where my intuition guides me. It doesn’t have to be logical to know it’s right. I’ve seen the alternatives and none of them have made me feel the way this one did. Knowing that it would be the right fit for my guy.
And now that I’ve found it, I can’t stop crying (I’m a crier, you’ll recall). This really being it means there’s no more reading or prepping or thinking to do. We’ll just have to do it. And the doing it makes it real. And the real of it is new. Until now, I’ve been able to imagine and put off and deny that this is happening any time soon. Now, it’s happening (yes, in nine months, but still!) and I have to just feel the feelings of my kid getting bigger and our lives changing.
He’s growing, so rapidly, so decidedly. It’s the exact thing that we want for our kids. And yet, it’s a constant heartbreak for us mothers. Because as much as I want to raise this kid into a person all his own, that means he has to become less mine, and that’s the grief of it.
By this time next year, he’ll be in school with a class and friends and daily activities that don’t involve or include me (appropriately!). I want that for him so deeply, of course, to the point that I now know way too much about the best possible way to emotionally support and nurture a class of three-year-olds that I will never have.
But the reality of it, the actual handing him over to the next phase of personhood, is just a heart punch I didn’t see coming. Oh my god stop crying in this coffee shop.
Some days, I forget to be grateful for this parenting journey. I forget to stop and focus and enjoy the days that pass in blinks. Today, I am beyond grateful for this perspective shift, this reminder to slow down and savor. To enjoy the present.
To hold on until he’s ready to let go.
Photo Credit: Icarian Photography