A Casual, Monumental Moment

Some of the other children were bawling as their moms and dads dropped them off for the first day of preschool. Not Daisy May. She marched straight into her “Tadpoles” class for 2 and 3-year-olds, found herself a mound of play-doh, and didn’t even look at me as I said goodbye and headed back out the door. She was so darned happy, that I forgot to feel teary and nostalgic. Forgot that when you send your baby off to her first day of preschool, you’re maybe supposed to have a big emotional moment of some kind.

But this kid is so different – so social, happy, and ready to play with other kids – it just didn’t even occur to me to be anything other than very, very happy for her. Maybe it also has to do with this being the third time around.

With Child #1, every tiny milestone felt enormous – marked by floods of tears and an avalanche of photos. With Child #2, those moments were every bit as precious, but much more casual, tempered by the wisdom of having done this all before, and the knowledge that there was so much more still to come. And now with Child #3 – our baby – milestones feel somehow enormous and microscopic at the same time. I am even more aware of how universal some of these rites of passages are – how watching your child accomplish something new is extraordinarily precious to you, yet it’s also incredibly ordinary in the larger sense. Babies and parents all over the globe have experienced these moments millions of times. But that doesn’t diminish the magnitude of the event in your own life – it actually heightens it to know that your “moment” is part of a pattern experienced throughout all humanity.

I returned to school at the end of the morning at pick-up time and found my sunny little girl, covered in blue paint, running across the playground, grinning ear to ear. She loved every minute of her first day. Even after we got home, she walked to the front door, put on her shoes, and told me, “I go school!”

Now, I’m not saying that I won’t be a bawling mess when she graduates from grade school, or goes off to college – or gets married. I guarantee I will. I do hope that when those moments come I will remember this one, though – a day when I was so very happy to watch my kid tackle a milestone she was clearly ready for and excited about, that I forgot to mourn the stage of life she was leaving behind.

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