My firstborn son started kindergarten yesterday. I’ve spent his entire life trying to help him be healthy, happy and safe. Six years of doting, worrying, learning and growing all led us to the moment The Professor opened the car door, donned a giant backpack and teetered off to his classroom with a “Love you, too, Mommy,” but without a second glance behind him.
The little old ladies in the grocery store were right – it did go fast, and I tried – I really tried! – to enjoy every minute. Right this minute, he’s in math, and I’m at home wondering … did I do enough with the minutes I had with him? Did I enjoy him enough?
Even as I pose the question, I know it’s an impossible one to answer. When it comes to our children, there is never enough. There’s always something more we feel we could do, or that we want to do, or that we wish we had the time/energy/strength/patience/money to do. We want everything for our children and we want to be the parents they deserve. We believe it when those aforementioned little old ladies in the grocery store tell us, “It goes so fast! Enjoy every second!” We just don’t always have the ability to actually do that.
I’ve enjoyed a lot of minutes this summer, the last summer before The Professor started Kindergarten and Huck Finn started preschool. I enjoyed making S’Mores, riding Go Karts, playing with Glo-Sticks, constructing sand castles, riding trains, building an amusement park with Legos, cleaning sticky popsicle fingers and twirling on the grass during summer evening concerts in the park.
There were also some moments I didn’t enjoy. I didn’t enjoy watching our shopping cart crash on the linoleum with Huck Fill still in it because I had the gall to step 14 inches away to read a label on a loaf of bread. I didn’t enjoy it when The Professor announced he no longer likes the “goldfish crackers with the black sunglasses on the box” after I purchased (at his request) a Costco-sized box of them. I didn’t particularly love refereeing the 7th sibling quarrel of the day before I had even made myself coffee, or enduring the sight of my children sulk into the house in supposed boredom after I spent almost two hours setting up the kiddie pool and toys in the backyard for their enjoyment, or listening to the ceaseless demands for snacks, snacks and more snacks. Good God, will they ever stop demanding snacks?
Over the last several years, I didn’t particularly love the loss of freedom that led to my questioning my own worth and unfairly resenting the independence of those around me. Most importantly, I didn’t – and don’t – love the overwhelming guilt I feel for not being able to truly enjoy every second.
I want to enjoy every second. I do! I believe you, little old ladies! I know it goes fast. I know I will want these days back. I say it myself! I say it often! And I believe it! I just can’t always do it. No matter how hard I try to enjoy every moment, there will be some moments that I do not enjoy. And I think that’s okay.
Sometimes, too much of a good thing is too much.
My firstborn son is in kindergarten. My baby is in preschool. I’m heartbroken yet proud, nervous yet enthusiastic, and a little lonely yet free. As a family, we are ready for this next step. It’s time now to seek balance and harmony. It’s time for my little ones to stand for a bit on their own two feet.
Every moment will not be perfect. That’s okay. I enjoy these moments as much as I can, and the moments that I can’t enjoy, I appreciate. I think that’s good enough for all of us.