It’s the day I dreamt of and dreaded.

Today, my youngest daughter, my baby, went to preschool. Backpack and lunch box in hand, big grin on her face. She’s so proud to be going to school, just like her big sister. Then, as the story goes, the shit hits the fan. She breaks down in tears and has to be peeled off of me before class starts. So bittersweet are these times of parenting.

Now, I’m alone, in my own house (minus the dog). It’s weird. It’s bizarre to go from constant chatter, laughing and occasional crying to quiet.  My kids have only been ‘out’ while just I’ve been home a couple of times for a couple of hours here and there. However, I think, this time, my mind recognizes we’re not going back, but moving forward. It’s the beginning of a new chapter in my (and my daughters’ lives).

I’ll admit, I’ve got mixed feelings about it. There are days I wake up wishing I had the day to myself, to do whatever I want. Maybe eat a meal in peace, not rush showering, exercise alone, watch a show that may or may not contain profanity, get in and out of the house/car/anywhere quicker because I’m alone… the list goes on and on. But this isn’t that day. This is the day my mind/emotions want to hold on tighter and not let go, even though I know it’s time. We’re both ready. I know I don’t have to let go completely, but just a little, so she gets her feet wet. (It is preschool after all, I’ve gotta get a grip!)

As of today, I have two school-aged children. I think back to those days where I had them both, snuggled up with me on a snowy day, with nothing but our imagination in a room full of toys. It was exhausting and challenging at the time, trying to come up with different, stimulating activities that would entertain them both everyday. I was just telling a friend of mine how I used to get a new toy every now and then, not so much for my kids, but because I needed something new to play with! Some variety to spice up the day! Because, yes, as cliche as it sounds, the days are long. I remember watching the clock a couple of times in the afternoon because I couldn’t wait for my husband to come home and talk to me or to have a minute alone, where no one needed me, a scheduled break if you will!

Now, when they hug me or kiss me or tell me “I love you”, even if it’s just because I let them have ice cream or watch one more “Paw Patrol”, I’m going to try and take a mental picture of that moment.

‘They’ say it sneaks up on you and it really does. I had a plan today. I had to. I needed something to keep my mind busy. I usually hit the gym, but that’s tomorrows plan. Today I’m working on a house project. One that will occupy my thoughts so I don’t have to constantly wonder if she’s still crying, like during drop-off. I tell myself to keep going, keep moving, keep focusing on the task at hand. The time will come when I need to go get her.

The uneasy feeling of being without my baby slowly let go. I hoped that meant she had stopped crying and she was having a blast. Just like when she went to daycare, she “couldn’t wait to go”, cried her eyes out when I left, and “wanted to stay” when I picked her up! Same deal today. Phew! When I rounded the corner and saw her smiling face, I think every muscle in my body relaxed. Thank God. I, (I mean she) made it!

This parenting thing is hard. You can’t control almost anything and it’s always changing. I’m on board this roller coaster ride, hanging on tight, wondering what’s going to happen next. Whether it’s a steep climb or a big drop, I’m in. I’m confident we’ll all find our way in this new adventure, my daughters with school and me job- hunting. Until then, I’ll lean on friends and family, exercise and make sure the wine rack never gets empty!