What a week to be pre-menstrual.
I’ll give you a brief overview: Tuesday night there was a picnic for all of the families at Harper’s new school. I read the invitation wrong and showed up half an hour late. Upon realizing this, I began to cry. On Wednesday morning, the first day of school, I woke Harper up and got her dressed. Upon seeing her in her school uniform, I cried. We then drove her to school, and upon parking the car, I cried. Upon opening my mouth to say hello to another mom, I cried. And when the teachers lined the kids up at the door to the classroom and had them all turn around and wave goodbye – no. I didn’t cry. I sobbed. Really, really loud. People were scared of me. I could tell.
I cried the whole drive home, I cried when I picked her up from school, I cried that night. The next morning, I dropped Harper off and then came home and took Davis to his first day of preschool. I told him I would stay until circle time, and I sat in the corner of the room by myself and cried. People stared. Now I was the crazy crying lady in two schools.
Davis, miraculously, did not cry when I left at circle time. And Harper bounced into her first day of kindergarten with what could only be described as a zest. (Although she did have a minor meltdown on Tuesday night; she cried a bit and said she was scared, but then Wednesday morning she seemed to have forgotten all about it). It turns out that I have healthy, well-adjusted kids who easily adapt to new situations. They obviously got that from their father.
I won’t blame my tears entirely on the hormones (although they’re certainly not helping my cause). The truth is, I am legitimately sad. I thought that the fact that I still go to our old preschool with Davis would make things easier, but I actually think that’s just made it harder. Every time I walk up the front steps, I am reminded that Harper is not there with me, holding my hand. I can’t even look at her teachers from last year. But the good news is, I’m not the only one. All of my friends who have younger children still in preschool keep saying how strange it feels to be there without the older ones, like we’re cheating on them somehow. And all week, we’ve been checking in with each other to see which of us would be the last one to get over it and stop crying. I thought I’d be the winner, given the PMS and all, but one of my friends is pre-menopausal. If we were playing hormone poker, I’d have two pair, maybe a full house. But she’s got a royal flush. It’s pretty much unbeatable.
But now that the first week is over, and now that I’ve actually gotten my period, I’m starting to see this whole kindergarten thing for what it really is: the first of many milestones in which Harper and I are on opposite ends of the mile. From here on out, I have a feeling that that I will always long for her to remain my little girl, and she will always be itching to grow up faster. She’s at a big kid school now, and she’s got a locker and a desk and a homework folder. I can’t stop crying about how grown up it all seems, about how she’s only five, and she’s not ready for all of these things yet. But Harper couldn’t be more excited about how grown up it all makes her feel. It’s me who isn’t ready, not her. I suppose that it’s a classic parent/child conflict, maybe the root of all parent/child conflicts. I vividly remember wanting to be older when I was a kid, and I also vividly remember my mother advising me not to wish my life away. It was good advice. I just wish I’d listened sooner.