Saying Goodbye to the Preschool Years

I was a ball of emotions as I watched my oldest child walk into elementary school for his first day of kindergarten. After a “red shirt” year, he was more than ready. Still, it was hard for me to let go of my baby. I wondered how he could have grown so quickly from that infant I held in my arms to this fearless six-year-old stepping into a brand-new school. It was a new adventure for all of us — getting out the door so early in the morning was quite the adjustment!

But, soon we all got used to our new normal and settled into a routine.

While one child navigated a new environment, my other child and I spent lots of time together — time she was used to sharing with her brother. We filled our mornings with books, blocks, play dough, music time, and playdates. We ran errands together and she helped me volunteer. Even when she started preschool a few days a week, I cherished sweet mornings with my sidekick and enjoyed the opportunity to get to know her personality even better. Of course, the toddler years were not always pleasant — I don’t think there is a parent out there who wouldn’t agree with that — but now that I am looking back on the other side, the happy moments stand out most in my mind.

In a matter of weeks, it will be time to kiss that baby goodbye and watch her walk her into that elementary school and off to kindergarten. But, this time I don’t have another sidekick at home. When the sun sets on summer, it will set on this season of life. We will say goodbye to the preschool years.

Oh, the preschool years — all the imagination, energy, questions, emotions, and milestones. The world through the eyes of a preschooler is more beautiful, colors are more vivid, and each new experience is more exciting than the last. I love these precious years, and I will miss them.

With this new season also comes the milestone of, “when the youngest goes to kindergarten.” For years, I would say, “When my youngest child goes to kindergarten, I will do all the things. My house will be perfectly organized, I will go back to work, I will volunteer more, and I will take on new hobbies. I will have so much time!” It was so easy to set those expectations when “the youngest going to kindergarten” seemed so far away, but now it’s here. And if the past is any indication of the future, my expectations will not necessarily translate into reality. I’m sure all the time will be quickly filled and we will be busier than ever before.

In some ways, we are entering a sweet spot of parenting with children young enough to still be sweet and innocent, but old enough to develop some independence. And having both children at the same school on the same schedule (and no preschool tuition!) is certainly something I look forward to. Still, there is a part of me that will always miss the preschool days. If I have learned one thing from parenting, it is that each stage seems to go faster than the last. On that note, I am off to wipe my tears, hug my babies, and embrace these final weeks of summer. I know as soon as I blink, I will be saying goodbye to the elementary, middle school, high school, and college years.

I want these days to last as long as possible.

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