The Last Few Steps

This year has been a challenge. Parenting any age has its challenges, but the past year — well, that’s not true; I’d say the past six months or so, really — has been particularly challenging for me.

Stinkerbelle is five. Just turned five. And so, SO much happens around five. And, a lot does not happen yet. And it all takes work.

I feel like we are in an endless rush, and yet we are going very, very slowly.

The rush comes in that there is so much going on now with our girl. She’s in school. She’s in various sports classes and developmental classes and whatnot. She’s constantly wanting to make play dates and go outside. She wants to help with everything. She has homework. She goes to the library. She’s learning to print. She’s singing along to songs. She’s mastering swimming and riding a scooter.

There are also many appointments and meetings and visits with teachers and service providers and therapists and people who are helping her get to the next hurdle: kindergarten in September.

There’s so much going on, all day long, all the time. It’s dizzying.

But the other part, the going slowly part, comes in that she’s not quite independent yet. Sometimes because of her age, and sometimes because of her challenges, and sometimes just because of who she is. She’s an endless barrage of questions verifying the minutiae of every step we take in everything we are doing. She wants to be independent with putting on shoes and printing her letters and setting the table and doing her homework, but she’s not quite there yet. She needs guidance and reassurance and help. The days are filled with bellowed questions about IS THIS THE RIGHT FOOT MOM and WHERE DOES THIS GO MOM and ARE WE GOING THIS WAY MOM. Even playing by herself involves being around or beside me (or her dad) or having something touching me and talking to me the entire time.

She’s completely independent, as long as she has one of us RIGHT THERE to talk to and help her.

It’s been really challenging. We’re also at the part of the show where we are slowly trying to claw back a little bit of “me” time, to fit in exercise or get some work done around the house or read a book — or hey, get this, POST ON MY BLOG — or whatever, but she’s not quite ready to fly solo yet.

She is, in so many ways. And in so many ways, she isn’t.

And then, come September, she’ll walk out the door and we’ll walk to school and she’ll walk in that front door and suddenly, for six or seven hours of my day she’ll be gone.

And honestly, I’m ready to fly solo, too, but in so many ways, I am not.

Don’t get me wrong, I am LOVING the fact that she is off to kindergarten in September. She NEEDS to go. Stinkerbelle is the most social kid I have ever known, and she will love to spend her days surrounded by other children. Plus, she loves school and she wants to go and learn SO much. She will love the structure and the stimulation and the learning. She will thrive.

I know she will miss us. And for the first days or weeks, she will check in periodically with her teacher, just to confirm that her Mommy will come and get her at the end of the day, or that her Daddy will be bringing cheeseburgers and french fries and OMG ROOTBEERPOP home on eat-out night.

And I will miss her too. The house will be quiet, and although the time will be my own, to do all these things that I have been needing time to do over the past five years, I am also acutely aware that who I am and what I do has been defined by her presence and her needs and her love over the past five years.

I will feel her absence keenly in some ways for a little while.

But we are not there yet. And while I am excited for her to start school, frankly, I am in no rush to get there.

I am looking forward to the end of her JK time, and various lessons and classes and appointments, next month. I am looking forward to the start of summer, to enjoy the last two months of our time together, just us. Yeah, she will make me crazy, but that is okay. Because I know I will miss her when it is done, and this time will not come again.

We are taking the last few steps towards the end of the time I had always dreamed about having with my daughter. And we are taking the last few steps toward the first few steps on her next big adventure, and our next big adventure as a family.