My daughter started kindergarten in the fall. She did well with the change. I had a more difficult time. I’ve been home with her full time since she was born and to say there was a void in her absence would be putting it mildly.
Nothing prepared me for the way I felt the day she went to kindergarten. I put on the happiest of faces until the second the bus pulled away and then had a full-blown sob fest. Everything felt so empty. The house, the car, my heart.
I heard it gets easier, every day you’ll get more use to her being gone. While this was true to an extent, I did stop bursting into tears every time someone asked me how she was doing in kindergarten, that emptiness never fully went away. I missed her every day. I still felt sad as I watched the school bus pull away with my tiny baby girl on it.
The one thing that made it easier was that she was doing well. There were days she was exhausted and didn’t want to go to school, but for the most part, she was happy there. She was learning so much and growing. Growing literally, figuratively, academically, socially, emotionally. The things that she did that first month of kindergarten blew me away.
We had purchased her a new bigger backpack for kindergarten. One that could fit a lunch box and snow pants. At first, she complained it was too big for her and uncomfortable. She could barely lift it and it threw her off balance. But a funny thing happened a couple of months into the school year. She grew into it, and I don’t mean just physically. She started to confidently carry that backpack like a boss. When she tried her toddler backpack of yesterday that was another story. She put it on and complained it felt small. Not comfortable anymore.
One of the strangest things about Anika going to kindergarten was that we’ve been in a bubble together these past few years. Our world has been small. She left the bubble and began a whole new life. Her world expanded. She was carrying large backpacks now with ease. Mine, however, didn’t feel like it expanded. I was still back in the bubble with her little brother.
And then came Coronavirus…
This pandemic put my daughter back in the bubble with us…more so than we ever have been, but it’s different this time. It’s expanded. As we embark on remote learning together, I get to enter her new big world. I see videos of the teachers I’ve only heard her talk about. I’m helping her learn and teaching her using the materials that I saw come home completed in the past. I get a front-row seat to what she has learned and what she is now capable of. I feel connected with her and her school in a new wonderful way.
Recently our governor made the call that students will not be returning to school this year. It will be remote learning exclusively until June. This was bittersweet for both of us. She loves being home and I love having her back, but she also loved her teacher.
One of the reasons she did so well is she was matched with someone who really understood her and helped facilitate such growth in her in a loving and supportive environment. I’m bummed she will miss out on three months of potential growth. When I spoke with my daughter about the change she was sad at first. We talked about things and she herself finally came to this conclusion.
“Well I was going to move on to first grade in a couple of months anyway, right? I wasn’t going to stay in kindergarten forever. “
I couldn’t have been prouder of her in that moment. She easily switched her thinking and adapted. We’ve been watching and reading a lot of Berenstain Bears around here lately and this quote from Mama Bear popped into my head when she said this.
“Instead of wasting today wishing it was yesterday, go out and enjoy all today has to offer. “
Well said. Mama Bear. Well said.
I love having my daughter back home. I couldn’t have appreciated this if she’d hadn’t left. That first day of kindergarten the only thing I wanted was more time. More time with her. I’ve been given that gift now.
Although there are moments I’m pulling my hair out trying to get her to do the online math she despises, or I think I might explode if I have to tell her and her brother to stop fighting over the sticks in the yard and just find a different stick to play with (There are 3,000 sticks out here, why are they fighting over the same one?) I’m going to try hard not to be sad she doesn’t get to finish kindergarten with a phenomenal teacher and when the time comes for her to return to school I’m going to try my hardest not to mourn for the days when I had her with me full time. I’m trying to cherish every last moment of this extra time we’ve been given together.
About the Author: Nikki Cox is a mommy of two striving to clear away the clutter both physical and emotional so she can live life with intention and clarity. Find her at Lovelylucidlife.com.