My reaction: “Nooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!”
This has nothing to do with not being physically prepared. Sweetness turned 5 two weeks ago, has all of her shots, is starting to read, writes all her letters, plays well with friends, even does chores and gets allowance. No, this has everything to do with a sappy mommy being slapped upside the head with the terrible reality that those years of weekdays of outings, playdates, and mommy-kid time with my baby girl are coming to an end.
Pure, unadulterated selfishness in its rawest form, people. Right here.
In fact, I’m so pathetically sappy that I cried that evening in bed. That’s how pitiful I am. I’m not ready for that time to end. Granted, I have 11 months until it is really over, but, seriously, I can totally understand now why some moms suddenly decide at this time to home school.
The Back Story
You see, I was 35 when I had my baby girl. I’d been thinking about having kids since I was a little girl, and really, really wanting them since my late 20s.
I remember a middle of the night nursing session with Sweetness in the first few weeks of her life, sitting in the rocker by her crib in the glow of the nightlight feeling so grateful that this wasn’t the only time I’d do this. I’d have at least one more child.
I cried so hard when Mr. Man decided he no longer wanted to nurse at just about one year. I was a complete wreck at the garage sale when I sold a lot of their baby things when they became toddlers. I almost needed a sedative when I gave away their baby car seat. Thank God my brother took their crib for his baby girl. I might have needed mental health hospitalization if I had to get rid of that. Those baby years were over way too fast.
School was another story. At first when Sweetness was born two weeks into September (August 31 is the cutoff for our school), I figured I’d test her in early. That stupid thought disappeared after a year, when I realized if I did that, I’d lose a year with her. Now I can’t feel more blessed to be given longer than most parents get. Almost a whole extra year.
However, in a rational decision to determine capacity needs as soon as possible, the Seattle School District opens early enrollment next month and effectively sent me into an emotional wreck. I didn’t need the early reminding, thank you very much.
Pulling It Together
Once I got over my sappy pregnancy-like hormonal response to the realization that the end is near, I threw it into gear and started some good old research into the local K-12 system. There’s something to be said about that “knowledge is power” business.
First off, let’s be perfectly clear. If Harvard had a kindergarten here, it wouldn’t be anywhere near good enough for my baby. But I have to move past that and look at what is available, and affordable, which means the public school system.
A few years ago when I talked with pals about our local elementary, middle and high school I wanted to cry. Terrible things were reported from all three. I almost put the house up for sale (and would have if the bank crisis didn’t happen). I also decided to not pay attention to the schools for a bit and deal with it all in that last year when I had to make a decision where to send Sweetness, the neighborhood school, an option school, or as a last resort, private school.
As it turns out, sometimes it pays to wait and see. The district has since rebuilt the high and middle schools. The elementary school is slated for rebuild in the next couple of years. The icing on the cake is the new elementary school principal is a super star. When I called asking about the school, she offered to meet with me. We talked for 45 minutes today, just her answering a future parent’s questions then giving me a quick tour. That spoke volumes. And to hear from her what she plans for the school – priceless.
On the tour she knew the kids by name. She’s hands on, getting her team in order, and making things happen (like a new computer lab full of Apples).
And our high school, which was one of the worst in the city when Sweetness was born, is now the one with the longest waiting list of people wanting to get in because of its international baccalaureate program.
So while I’ll not stop having little crying jags, like the one I just had here as I talked about selling my baby stuff, I can at least be comforted by the fact that Sweetness will be moving into an exciting new phase of her life, and there are some great adventures, programs and people waiting to help her be her best.
Mommy just has to start the long process of letting go.