Today I registered my baby for kindergarten. It was pretty non-eventful, really. He’s my third so I knew the secretary, knew what forms not to forget, knew not to bother waiting in line. In fact, I knew so much that it all almost felt like old hat.
Except it still isn’t.
Back when I had three babies under five, I thought I knew a lot about what life with “older” kids was like. Frankly I pretty much thought it sucked, which isn’t surprising since you don’t typically have three kids in five years unless you really enjoy babies (or you are a sadist). I was addicted to their fuzzy sleep sacks, belly laughs, walks downtown with a double stroller and the youngest in a Bjorn. Amusement parks, plane rides, even grocery stores, I could go anywhere with my three and love every minute. (Of course, there is an element of rose-colored glasses in this story, as in all stories, by this point, but you know what I mean). I loved co-opping at preschool, I loved My First Art Class, Music Together, Little Gym. I loved them over and over again with each kid, in fact. I loved watching my four year old dance in the kitchen playing a kazoo, my two year old wobbling on princess heels while the baby trailed behind them with a maraca for their “Happy Day Parade”. I loved first foods, first steps, first falls. I used to record them all in my wall calendar.
And then suddenly that all stopped. The firsts were replaced with soccer practices, CCD, baseball tryouts, play tryouts, Crazy Sock Days, Crazy Hair Days, basically any kind of crazy day you could imagine. My big boy refused to wear an “I love Mom” t-shirt. My daughter wanted to fall in love. My baby wanted to watch Ninja Turtles, something only a third child could possibly request at four years old. There were no more bouncies, no more Little People, no more plastic plates, and very few Cheerios on the floor. Babydom had come and gone, and somehow after years of advance pining for its absence, I had missed it leaving.
So today I thought I might feel a profound sadness for what was officially gone as I registered to move on to the next phase. One where I had no nursery school towels to bring home to clean. No diapers. No one sticking their hands under my office door or yelling for me to wipe their bums while I am on a client call. An empty house from 8:30-2 on those seemingly few weeks when school is on a normal schedule.
Instead what I felt were those same old pinings that it might all go by too fast. 100th days of school celebrations, helping kids cut out those crazy glasses. Days on yard duty, holding my daughter’s hand after she’s fallen from the monkey bars yet again. Suffering through multiplication tables with my oldest. Helping the kids prepare their acts for the variety show, and wondering how to comfort them if they back out in the end. Terrorizing little kids in indoor playgrounds as we play a whole family game of hide and seek tag. Racing around Embassy Suites across the country. Swimming together. Googling things like astral projection and Blloody Mary together, and then dealing with the aftermath. Reading Harry Potter together. Knowing the words to every song in Frozen. Actually looking forward to the Lego movie. Making rainbow loom bracelets at midnight. Listening to their dreams and lying with them as they fall asleep. Hearing funny stories about their friends. Finally convincing them that the custodian’s name really is Mr. Gross as opposed to a mean nickname. Mornings, any morning, walking to school with everyone fighting to have their say, tell their story. Dog piles on the bed. Holding hands until you reach the schoolyard gate.
So now the day I fear is the day when all these events fall off my calendar too. You can’t blame me. I’ve heard no parents ever hang out at the middle school.