Caroline has been going to “school” since she was 6 months old. I enrolled her in a mother’s day out program early, so that she could have a few hours a week getting used to life without mama around, and I could get a few things done. She’s been taking it all in stride ever since. It was 2 years ago that I first left her at “school”. Fast forward to today and she’s been to 3 different schools, she runs in and hardly says goodbye, and she’s graduated to doing activities on her own- no more mommy and me classes are in sight. My baby has grown up so quickly.
2 years ago I cried as I dropped her off for the first time.
She attended two mother’s day out programs in consecutive years. Then, this summer we switched her over to a 2 day pre-k program. She’s continuing with pre-k this school year and she’s simply thriving.
I picked her up from school yesterday, and the teacher told me that she is incredibly well behaved for her age. She listens to instructions well and is such a delight to have in class. She earned a sticker each day in class this week. Such a proud mama moment.
Last month, she graduated to a new swim class level– where I’m no longer in the pool with her! My heart is so full as I watch her. She’s focused, she’s determined, and she’s so patient. She sits on the side of the pool, watches and waits for her turn. I can see her mind going as she listens to instructions and always does her best.
Today it really hit me though. Today was her first gymnastics class all on her own. I’ve been taking her to gymnastics for over a year now (she started when she was 1.5 years old). We’ve had the same class every week, with the same instructor. Today she walked in on her own. New instructor. New kids in class. No mama. The class is for 3 and 4 year olds. She’s not 3 until November, but her previous instructor agreed that it was time for her to move up. I knew she’d do great.
My heart was heavy on this day (one month after April’s birth and death). I knew I was extra emotional. But as I watched Caroline walk into class on her own, it really all hit me. I teared up and watched through the windows. One of my daughters doesn’t get to grow up, and the other is growing up so fast.
I watched as she listened to every instruction. She waited patiently for her turn (she was the last in line every time out of 5 children in the class). She did every skill to the best of her ability. She knew exactly what to do even when the instructor wasn’t working directly with her. She tried everything, and got help when she needed it. She was determined to do as good as the other (older) children in the class. Her body is her only limitation. She did outstanding and she was so proud of herself. Proud is not even the right word for how I felt. I was light years past proud. She’s incredible.
As I was getting her shoes on and gathering our things, the instructor came out and found us. Caroline’s previous coach (Coach Willy), had talked to her after class to see how she did and inform her that she’s not turning 3 until November. Her new coach told me that she was beyond impressed. She never would have guessed that Caroline wasn’t 3 based on how she handled the class and the instructions. She told me that her first thought was not that Caroline was not yet 3, but that she was just small for her age. When she found out that she was younger, she was super impressed, because Caroline handled herself incredibly well. It was so nice to hear. Caroline gets to stay in the big kid class. I’m so thrilled, because this is the level she needs to be at. She already learned new skills in one day. She needed to be challenged, and this class is just what she needs.
I’d stood beaming through the windows at my daughter for 45 minutes. She didn’t look at me until the end. She was that focused.
One of my daughters doesn’t get to grow up, and the other is growing up so fast. It’s going to be a heart wrenching story to watch unfold. For every milestone Caroline reaches, I know it’s a milestone that April will never get to experience. I never knew that it was possible to feel such joy and such sadness in one breath, one moment of time.
I am so grateful that I get to be a mom. A mom to two fabulous daughters. I can’t imagine who I’d be if I wasn’t a parent. Being a parent is the best job, the best thing I’ve ever had the pleasure of doing. I’m honored. I’m humbled. I’m excited for what’s to come. I’m taking it all in. Every hour. Every day. Every year. I cherish every moment.
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