For the past two years, Monkey has been attending the preschool/daycare on site at the university where I work. My commute (half an hour, each way) has been filled with some of the best, most random, beautiful, and bewildering conversations as we make our way from here to there, and back again.
In two days, her final summer session ends. This Friday, when I drive to work, I will be all alone in the car for the first time in two years.
I have something in my eye...
The perks to having my one and only girl right across campus, all day, every day, have been immeasurable. I became a calmer driver during my commute. I finally started to make sure I actually leave my job somewhat on time, instead of staying to finish just one more/five more/ten more things.
Twice a week, the wee ones eat at the university cafeteria. I have lunch-bombed her several times unexpectedly, and more times that were planned.
Today is my last time doing that.
REALLY need to do something about these allergies...sniff...
I have been blessed to be able to meet and know her friends. And their parents. Because *I* have been the one dropping her off and picking her up (and hauling all her stuff in and out). I've been here, because I AM here.
And in two days, I won't be.
Some of the "working mommy guilt" has been diluted because it's been really freaking convenient to be just a couple of buildings away from her.
If she's sick or hurt? I can be there in about four minutes.
Question for the teachers? I can ask when I am back to pick her up after work.
I know her teachers, and I know the college students who work in the classrooms, and they all know me. Granted, most of them just refer to me as "Monkey's Mom" --but hey, that works.
And now, I won't be in that role any more. I won't be the one dropping her off at school every day.
MDD will be bringing her to school, because I still have to make that half-hour commute and get to work by 8:00-- and her new, big-kid school doesn't open the doors until 8:40. Our friend from church will be picking Monkey up at school, since her own kids are there as well. I will be picking Monkey up from the babysitter's house again.
I know every parent probably gets misty-eyed seeing their youngest (in my case, only) baby move on to "real" school. It's the end of an era.
For me, it is feeling a lot like a one-way ticket to Mommy-Guilt-Land.
Quite frankly, I really don't like it. Not a bit.
I know it's important for her to move on, to grow up, and make friends and find her way in the world. I KNOW that and I celebrate that...but I also am feeling my heart tugged so strongly by those little hands, which aren't so little anymore. Those hands are big enough to hold my whole hand now, instead of wrapping around just one or two of my fingers.
This is how it's supposed to be.
Doesn't mean I won't cry.
So today, I will dine in the university cafeteria with my girl, for the very last time.
I will try to forgive myself for not doing it more often. Because there are no more chances now.
I will give her an extra cookie and the biggest hug I can give without risking a total meltdown at the table. (Mine, not hers.)
I have been so grateful to be so close in proximity for these past two years. It's made my nearly intolerable job situation almost-somewhat-tolerable.
I have also learned so very much about my little girl, about who she is when she's not with her family. I have learned what a good and kind friend she is to her peers, and what happens when she encounters injustice and bullies within her environment. She's a rock star. She stands up for the little ones and she is brave and honest and loving. My heart could burst from knowing she's mine.
This week just feels...BIG.
Monkey has added to it by suddenly becoming amazingly proficient in her reading.
Much like she did with walking-- when she was ready to do it, she just... got up and walked. Across the whole room. Like it was nothing.
It's not nothing.
She's reading. She's counting by twos, threes, fives, and tens. Past 150.
She is jabbering endlessly about Harry Potter plot lines and side characters and creating clubs with her friends and endless, half-started rainbow loom creations and Kidz Bop music and so many little things.
None of which are "nothing."
She's becoming her own person, in her own ways. And I don't get to see her on random walks through campus anymore, or meet her friends or their parents at pickup and drop-off anymore.
It's not "nothing."
Everyone always says how quickly the time goes. Sometimes that feels true in the moment. Other times, like this, you only see it when you look behind you and see just how much distance you've covered.
We're rolling by, and it's going quickly, just like everyone warned me.
Today on the way home, we're going to blast the music and sing along.
All the way.
Because that's not nothing, either.