Yesterday I had a moment. I was doing something ordinary and practical. I was being proactive, trying to keep my work-life in order. It was a functional sort of day. No biggie. But really…it was HUGE and I didn’t understand that until after it was done. What did I do?
I turned in the kindergarten registration papers for my youngest child and was unexpectedly flooded with sadness and joy.
I’ve done this twice before, so sending a child to school isn’t new to me. It shouldn’t be a big deal, right?
I remember with my first (she’s nearly 9 now), I cried. Ok, I sobbed. My baby was going to school! When my second, who will be 7 next month, went off to kindergarten I didn’t cry. I felt badly about this, as if I should give equal emotions to each of my kids for these important milestones. Now, with my third, youngest and last child…I’ve returned to the all-consuming emotions that flooded me with my first.
It’s funny. I’ve been looking forward to this year for awhile. For the last several years I’ve put my career on the back-burner while I focused on raising the kids. Admittedly, I never really let my career go – completely. I struggled to say good-bye to work that defined me, only to engage in a role where I felt less equipped. I have two college degrees and a mass of post-graduate certificates, but none of that prepared me for motherhood! So, I continued to work part-time and have anxiously awaited my son’s entrance into kindergarten for some time.
And now, it’s nearly here. In seven months, my son will be in kindergarten and I’ll have nearly full days to myself – five days a week! I’m overjoyed at the prospect of ramping my career back up. Yet, I’m consumed with sadness as I realize that my kids are growing up – fast. This Fall I’ll have a 4th grader, 2nd grader and kindergartner. And to think, I still remember holding each of them as tiny babies – the smell, the touch, the essence of all that angelic baby love – oh, it’s so sweet and still strong in my memory! And that’s when I cry.
Off-ramping my career during my kids’ pre-school age changed me though. I’m still ambitious. I still strive to achieve goals that stretch me – personally and professionally. But, my priorities are different. Before it was work first. Today, it’s family first. So as I enter into this next season of working motherhood, I do it with joyful anticipation and a hint of sadness that yet another season has ended.
image credit: flickr/joiseyshowaa