Menifee Mom: Kindergarten Class Marks the End of an Era

By Karen Thomas

This school year, for my family, represents one of those times in life where everything changes. It's a year I've looked forward to for a VERY long time, but now that it's here and I'm in the middle of it, I'm left a little unsure how I feel about it.

It's kind of like when you land a promotion that requires you to relocate. Though you are really excited about it and it is exactly what you've wanted, as you drive out of town for the last time, you find you are overcome with mixed emotions. Life as you know it has changed and there is no turning back.

You see, this year is the year my baby started kindergarten.

As any mom can attest, when you are home all day with multiple children under 5, those school years just don't seem to come fast enough. Sometimes you feel like you are waist deep in toys, dirty diapers, Cheerios, and crying children with no end in sight. What's worse is that any time you need to go anywhere, you have to bring them all with you!

When baby No. 4 was being considered, I was only a year and a half away from having all my kids in school. The fact that I was prolonging that day was something I seriously thought about.

Now here I am, six years later, and I'm feeling rather sentimental. I've come to the end of an era. After 13 years of Sesame Street, Dora the Explorer, Little People toys, sippy cups, and strollers's over. My kids are growing up, moving on, and those years will never come back.

And now I sit here in a silent house, the memories bringing tears to my eyes, and I have to remind myself that this is what I wanted.

It's funny; all year I was really looking forward to my baby starting kindergarten. She, on the other hand, seemed content to just keep being my sidekick. I mean, she'd spent most of her life helping me with PTA, so I guess she had seen enough to decide school just wasn't that special. But then, about a month before school started, she began to get excited.

When the first day of school came, she was more than ready. I think she was actually a bit annoyed that I had to go to class with her. When the second day came, she suggested that I drop her off on the corner and insisted she could "walk there by myself." (Not a chance!) I did, however, drop her off in the "drop off loop" with the other kindergarteners. She jumped out of the car, yelled, "Bye mom, I love you!", blew me a kiss, and didn't look back.

Since that day, I keep coming across a lot of really cute babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. They all seem to remind me of those years now in my past. I'm left wondering if I really enjoyed it enough. Did I play with my kids enough? Did I sing them enough songs? Did I laugh and act silly? Did I take enough pictures? How did it all go by so fast???

Did I truly enjoy it, as EVERYONE told me to, or did I simply "survive?"

In the end, I guess I just have to accept the fact that change is just a part of life and the next phase of life will bring great memories, too. The trick is learning to appreciate whatever phase I am in (even when it involves crayon on the walls or bratty teenagers) and find joy in the here and now, because before I know it, these years will be gone, too.

Karen Thomas is a stay at home mom of four daughters, has been on the PTA board at her kids' school for four years, and is a volunteer at her church, in addition to her activities as a volunteer soccer referee, a piano teacher, and a runner. Her column will appear here every Thursday. Comments are welcome.


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