It had been on my calendar for roughly two months. The "Kindergarten Tea" at our Chicago Public Elementary School where these two five year olds will enter come this fall and there is even a facebook page for the Class of 2027 and I AM NOT READY. But I am ready. And more importantly, they're getting ready.
They always introduce each other to new people saying, "This is Gah. He's my brother. We are twins." "And this is Bebe. She's my sister. We are twins."
I chat with other moms at their Pre-K and we are all of the mind that while we are not at all ready, we are all trying to be ready. It's a big change. For those of us with one child or twins who are leaving for whole day kindergarten and there are no other babes left behind (NO TROLL LEFT BEHIND), this is a doozy.
I went to that big school where these teeny tiny baby children will go from Kindergarten through 8th grade and walked the halls. I sat in the auditorium and listened to the Principal as she confirmed that as a twin parent herself, she believes in keeping twins together for Kindergarten and then separating in first grade. Unless there's a reason not to. This is what I was ready to fight for, and now I don't have to. Sweet relief. I met other staff and saw the classrooms. I only cried twice. Once when I saw the cafeteria, where they will eat their lunch BY THEMSELVES every day, and the classroom where all the current kindergartners looked so gd happy they may have given them something in exchange for all the smiling faces, I don't know. But yeah, I cried. Because my babies are no longer my actual babies and they are becoming these awesome little kids with lives of their own and friends of their own and experiences that I will have little direction over and it's the definition of bittersweet. Everything about parenting kids is bittersweet.
I'm so used to having these two underfoot, available, needing me, at all hours of the day, that this will FOR SURE be a bigger challenge and change for me than it is for them. They are ready for the new phase and I know they will thrive and love it as they have each year so far. And their mama will adjust.
This mama just registered her two kids for kindergarten. HOLD ME. So grateful for the other mamas there that day who were feeling all the feelings with me.
As if that didn't make for a big enough week, my girl kept saying, "there's something hard back here" and "what is this hard thing in my mouth here" and like the diligent ever watchful parent I am, I said, "oh it's nothing" because kids say "what is this" about every little thing like 73 times a day and if I freaked out about each one, well, let's just say I spend far too much time on webmd as it is and ironically IT IS NOT GOOD FOR MY HEALTH.
However, after the third time that day, I looked in her mouth to find this monster (BRACE YOURSELVES):
My girl thinks it's HILARIOUS and the best thing in the entire world and she's never in her life been more excited to tell people anything as she is to tell them, "I HAVE MY FIRST LOOSE TOOTH AND THERE IS ONE COMING IN BEHIND IT". She's practically hailing down cars on the street to tell them her good fortune with this smile on her face and twinkle in her eye that is pure and infectious joy.
But also, super creepy, right? I mean, kids (all of us) have ALL THESE TEETH up in our heads and they're just sitting there, waiting, plotting, seriously can you hear the Jaws theme music in your head because super creepy.
Kids faces change when they get their big teeth. It seems like just yesterday I was whining about how cruel twin baby teething was. And now here we are. One kid is losing their first baby tooth and gaining a super creepy grown up tooth in return - her brother may wait until he's about 17 to lose his - but here we are.
I don't need the "just wait untils", I just need a moment of acknowledgement and I hear you. This is a moment and I don't want to rush it or miss it, so until the fall, I am in this 5 year old, Pre-K space where they are still at home most of the day rather than in full day kindergarten, where are able to take off on adventures or just to Target or just able to snuggle on the couch if we want to. This summer is going to be so full of adventures and snuggling and togetherness and let's not even talk about the fact that we are done with our Nanny (and my blood sister for life) Nikki come the fall. It's TOO DAMN MUCH I TELL YOU.
Today I was late picking them up for school and I WAS RUNNING (literally - and I am NOT made to run). I fell. HARD. Not a dainty trip, oh no. A sprawled out, lasted a good 15 minutes going down with slow motion OHHHHH NOOOOO sound without any question that people saw it because they saw it all. I am mortified of being late for pick up. Not for my kids because they love being at school as much as for impinging on the teachers/staffs short lunch break before their afternoon classes start. Ms Melody saw me and took me straight to the nurses office and cleaned me all up and got me squared away. Lucky for her I held back my tears. These teachers and staff and caregivers do so much more than just care for our kids. Gratitude abounds.
The kids were terrified of their mama falling and hurting herself but saw Ms. Melody caring for me and had my reassurance that I was fine and just sorry I was late, but all those things are so good and healthy for them to see. Mamas run late. Mamas hurt themselves and need some kindness and help and extra hugs sometimes. Teachers and Aides are INCREDIBLE at so many things and their love and care goes above and beyond on a daily basis. Our sometimes obnoxious praise of them is warranted and absolutely something I refuse to slow down on.
It does all go so so fast. But it also goes exactly as it's supposed to. Shark teeth tell me they are growing up as they should be and if I hold up my end of the deal, I get them where they need to be to flourish. Even if I stumble and fall along the way. Along with those giant creepy teeth in their heads, those brains are craving more than I can give them at home all day and while some are equipped to have kids home all day, I am not one of those people. I fully support teachers and staff and those who enrich my children's lives in ways I'm not capable of. I am thankful. And a little sad. And super proud of all of us for moving on and taking this next step, no matter how hard it seems. No matter how quiet my house will be next year during the day.
I will be able to work without screaming in the background. Without someone asking me for snacks every five minutes. Without little kids needing me for everything every single moment. Little big kids not needing me every second. That actually sounds quite nice. And also like the worst thing ever. Feeling all the feelings is exhausting. Being a mom is letting go of selfishness over and over and over all day long. Doing what's best for your kids is sometimes bullshit. Or at least it feels that way. Roots and wings and all that nonsense.
Little big kids on the brink.
You expect that it will be hard. You expect that it will push all your buttons. You expect that these kids will make you feel great big things you've never felt before. That your heart will feel as though it was just waiting for this all these years without them. What I didn't expect is how much I would crave it and miss it when it goes away. Even the stuff I complain about as it's happening. The weight of their little bodies. The being able to carry them up the stairs. The needing me to wipe their bottoms. I'm almost ashamed to say I don't want them to be able to wipe their own bottoms yet. Almost, but then I don't have much shame.
They're getting to be little big kids. I am not ready. Or am I? Everything we've been through to this point indicates that I am absolutely ready. I just don't realize it until it starts happening. We walk together holding hands through each new day. We help carry each other through.
For now, at five years old and perfectly five years old, we have:
Me: "But Bubby don't you want to stop licking your lips so much so I don't keep having to put this stuff on your lips all the time?
Bubby: "Well mama just think about this. Like you always say, we should just be thankful that we have the stuff to put on my lips, right?"
WHERE DO THEY LEARN THIS STUFF I SWEAR.
The brushing and styling of my hair so often and loving their designs so madly. Kids at drop off at school today listening to Ms. Jennifer and I talk about hair and wanting to dye it colors and styles and the like, when one kid chimed in with "DO YOU HAVE A MOHAWK?"
"Yes I do. Today."And then more -
"Your mom has a mohawk!"
The Irish Dancing that happens now on a regular basis. My boy has his own version of what he calls, "the cool dance". My girl actually has the basics down pretty well, and let's just say, she's got a powerful touch about her. She bounces around and twirls and wants us to watch her and video her and applaud her. She smiles that little smile that blasts my heart wide open each time, and I think, I want to stay here forever. She is amazing. But she is only going to become more amazing and if I keep doing the next right thing, I get to be here for it all.
Then there is this from my boy:
My girl gave me a list of what to do for her stuffed kitty, Sophie, today while she was at school for 2.5 hours. Ahem. The shocking thing is how many of those things I actually did.
There are so many days of donuts and libraries and the park. Walking the botanic garden talking and hearing about things that I hadn't ever thought about, or at least not since I was five years old, and if I let myself give in to it, I get to be part of that magic. When I can allow my brain to slow enough to be present with them, even for a few hours, I am always better for it.
He's still my snuggle bug. He tells me often. Except when he's mad at me, but that doesn't last long. She's so happy when we have Mama and Bebe days. When she holds my hand and looks up at me just to make sure we are really doing this, I'm telling you, fireworks.
There's a thing my dad has done as long as forever and it's when we are in the car and he is driving and he reaches his hand back to grab onto mine. Just for a second. He just did it again a few weeks ago when we were visiting them in Arizona. When I was younger, it felt like love. It felt like safety. Now that I'm a mom, I find myself driving and reaching back first on one side and then the other, waiting for those little hands to grab onto mine for just a minute. Just for that moment of "I love you and I'm so glad you're here and I'm here with you and we are safe together". The tears of gratitude spring into my eyes as I glance in the rear-view and see their eyes looking at me and I get it now. And then I think of my parents and all they have done for me, and the tears start again. I get it now.
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