As I was putting clothes away in the girls’ room last night, it hit me.
I am going to have to go school shopping for Ada soon.
We’re talking backpacks, new pants, school shoes, pens, pencils, maybe even one of those cool pencil holders I always coveted when I was a little girl.
And with that thought, a wave of panic swept over me.
I feel literally and physically sick whenever I start thinking about Ada starting school in less than 2 months (!!!). As in heart palpitations, nausea, and sweaty palms.
I don’t know what’s wrong with me.
I think part of my problem is that I simply cannot believe that this part of my life as a parent is already beginning. That the season of an empty schedule, early morning cartoons on the couch, and giggles throughout the day is over. I can’t fathom that I blinked–and Ada turned five. And then, the thought of Ada alone, navigating a lunch room, facing that inevitable tiredness where she gets a little teary without me, or just plain missing us is almost too much to bear.
But I think the larger part is that up until now, so much of my parenting has simply been about me.
The literal, physical presence of me in my children’s lives.
I have spent all of my time and energy on trying my hardest to make sure I’m with them. I worked nights when Ada was little and stayed home with her during the day; I’ve done afternoon shifts and weekend shifts, and tried my best to work from home all while giving them a good childhood.
I’ve thought that if I could just be with them, be home with them, always with them, I was somewhat doing a good job.
Just like that, it is no longer about me.
It’s about her.
Figuring out what’s best for her.
Understanding how I can best help her to live the life she is meant to have.
Supporting her as she grows.
I’ve realized that all of this time, I have been thinking of raising my children in the terms of me: as in, they are a part of me, my responsibility; their childhood, their manners, their social skills, their education, the way they fall apart in public, has all been resting on my shoulders.
But maybe I’ve been going about it all wrong.
Because when it comes right down to it, they’re not really mine, are they?