My baby graduated from preschool and I lived to tell the tale. What started with the tiny cap and gown hanging in my closet for a month, ended with a store bought chocolate cake and a gallon of chocolate ice cream. This entire school year passed like someone else's life, and yet there I was, in the same hall as the Christmas program just six months before, watching my little one grab her "diploma".
I didn't cry. Maybe I should have, but while it was bittersweet, it was also a relief. It was an exhale of all those harried mornings, all the missed show and tells, all the school parties I couldn't be at last year. I teared up a few times, especially when they played this sappy Taylor Swift song about growing up or something like that, and then I felt like as ass for tearing up. All around me parents and grandparents were crying, and I was sitting like a heart of stone.
I guess it's because I cry at other times.
Mackenzie really has grown up this year. We now buy her clothes in the "girls" department, not the toddlers. She has decided to grow out her hair, and so her little a-lined noggin is a thing of the past. She likes to paint her nails and her toe nails. She knows all the words to "Blank Space". She can also count to one hundred and say her alphabet. She can even write her name.
Mackenzie seems so big and so small at the same time. And so I tear up and my heartaches when she does those little things that remind me that she is the baby.
She still rubs my earlobes when she's tired or scared. She still wants me to snuggle her in the morning. She will still crawl in my lap and pretend she isn't tired, when it's so obvious she is. She is still afraid of the dark, and of loud noises outside her window. Just last week when we were watching a movie, she covered her eyes at the part where the kids were going to get into trouble, then began to peek through her fingers so she wouldn't miss it. She still wants to be a princess and a teacher when she grows up. She still wants mom when it gets dark.
And even though it sometimes feels like I still have a baby in the house, I found myself at a preschool graduation. My daughter's preschool graduation. I wasn't quite ready for my last baby to say goodbye to preschool and hello to kindergarten. I wish that I could extend summer another month, to make sure we put off the new school year as long as possible. Because after kindergarten it all starts to fly. That is really what makes my heartache. It's not just the idea that there aren't any babies left in this house. It's that there is nothing we can do to stop them from becoming grown ups. They keep growing up. I keep growing old, and I guess, nostalgic.
There was no pomp or circumstance for this preschool graduation. There was cake and people who loved her. There was a cap and a gown, and for whatever reason her insistence on wearing rainbow socks with that cap and gown. She also demanded shorts and a t-shirt, and thankfully, I talked her into a new blouse instead. We had a quiet good-bye to great teachers and a fantastic school. I had a quiet good-bye to a part of my mothering life that is over. Those years right before school is a constant. When going to school is optional, and it's for half a day three or four days a week. I said good-bye to homework free nights and optional field trips. I've said good-bye to an era that I thought I couldn't wait to get out of, but sadly am now regretful to leave. Why do we spend so much time looking forward, and not enough time looking around? Why are we always in such a rush?
I'm not rushing this summer. I want to enjoy every last minute before I have a kindergartner. I want to cherish and hold every last second before I finally realize nothing will stop time or the little heartaches along the way.