Archive | September 2013

Bloodwork – Take Three

You have to get bloodwork done at your third birthday physical. But, if you’re like me, you can let it slide. Because holding your child thru bloodwork always is awful, and if preschool doesn’t start until September, it’s easy to just postpone it. For months.

But alas, preschool is pretty adamant about making sure that my girl is lead free, and they aren’t taking my word on it.

I’ve got some experience with this, with both http://www.melissaannecohen.com/blood-work/ and http://www.melissaannecohen.com/bloodwork/. So you’d think that I would have been prepared, and I guess I was. And of the three, she was the best. Because the other two were so terrified, that there was no reassuring them. They were completely panicking, and I couldn’t reassure them or comfort them. The terror was too all encompassing, they barely registered that I was there, let alone felt better because I was the one holding them.

Julie was a lot calmer. Not happy – she sobbed thru the whole thing, and told me repeatedly that she wanted to get out of this place, she hated this – but she was mostly just mad. She wasn’t terrified, and I think that’s what made all the difference. Even though it was a lot more traumatic, on the face of it. They couldn’t find veins, in either arm, but poked her twice trying to. Ended up with a finger prick to try and get at least the lead test done. Both my older children had good veins, easy to locate on the first prick – Julie’s were impossible to find, and the bloodwork was actually a lot more physically difficult for her because of it.

I wondered if I was just immune to it now, because I so vividly remember blood work with my two older children. Maybe it was just that she’s the third, and I’m all “been there, done that” with her. But then I remembered how horrible the preschool transition has been, and the number of times I’ve dropped her off and then gone to my car and cried because my baby was so sad. I don’t think you ever really get immune to it – no matter how many children you’ve had, you feel like your heart is ripped out with each one. The difference with Julie, this time, was that she just handled it better. Maybe I handled it better too – I was very calm about it, very matter of fact about it, and she was able to talk to me about what was going to happen, and even though she hated every single second of it, she was so brave. And so easily consoled, a trip to Price Chopper in Westborough and the super cute little kid carriages made it all better.

Proof God Loves Me

I’m a recovering “everything happens for a reason” girl.  I used to believe that wholeheartedly, I was also a big fan of thinking that I could control what actually happened, that if I wanted something and truly focused all of my energy on it, it would happen.  I’ve been on a bit of a spiritual journey, now that I’m thinking about it, for the past thirty years or so – and at this point, I’m more of a “crappy things happen sometimes, and perspective matters” kind of girl.

Which works for me, as a world view.  That being said, I’ve also got a sneaking suspicion that there’s something, call it God or Divine Energy, or the Universe, loves me, and every now and again, it conspires to make me blissfully happy.  Today was such a day.

I’ve been running, running, running for weeks and weeks.  I’m in the car, and I’ve been battered with preschool drop off traumas, and volunteer obligations that I can’t quite figure out how to fulfill.   I’m behind in folding laundry, I can’t find the floor in Sam’s bedroom, and I’m gradually getting used to my kitchen permanently in a state of disarray.

But today, oh, today – today, something glorious happened.  Let me back up by saying that it had been a craptastic hour and a half prior.  Sam is ridiculously overtired, and lost his little mind sobbing about going to a playdate.  Didn’t want to go – didn’t want to NOT go either.  I tried to handle it, and failed miserably, ended up yelling at him and dragging him to Julie’s dance class.   Jessie was bitter and resentful because Sam was being a pain, and Julie was upset because Sam was upset when we finally arrived at the dance studio.  Where she refused to dance.  Sat on my lap, curled up and pouting, and refused to participate.  Then I dragged all three of them down to get Marc, and dealt with Sam refusing to get in the car to drive home – special thank you to the guy in the next car that glared at me as I yelled at my son.  I get home, dump Marc and Sam off at home, and take the two girls to the store – and that’s when it all turned around.

I bought chips – little bags of chips that I never buy because they aren’t healthy or cost effective.  But they were hungry and it was easy and quick.  So both girls had some chips, and I dropped Jessie off at dance class.  I then passed the sign at Dunkin Donuts, offering me a 99 cent latte if it was after 2:00.  It was, and I happened to have $1.06 in my wallet, and went thru the drive in.  Then Julie – who never ever naps, not ever, and certainly not in the car – FELL ASLEEP.  And stayed asleep, as I pulled over, with my latte, and OMG – I have hummus and pita chips in the car from the trip to the store.  I have forty five minutes, maybe a few more, with a good book, an iced mocha latte and pita and hummus.  It was awesome.  I sat by myself, alone, except for the slightly snoring toddler in the back, with the windows open and the air was soft and warm.  The birds were chirping, the trees just starting to change.

It was perfect.

 

Don’t Trust Your Instincts

I know – it flies in the face of conventional parenting wisdom.  You always are supposed to trust your instincts as a parent, when that little voice tells you that the fever is something serious, get it checked.  When your child answers “nothing” in an innocent tone of voice when you holler in to see what’s going on, and your instincts tell you otherwise, most often they’re in the middle of something they shouldn’t be doing.  And when your instincts tell you that your child is scared and vulnerable and anxious, and wants only to be picked up and comforted – don’t do it.

At least not without really thinking about it.

I’m a comforter by nature with my kids.  I’m a crappy playmate, I never play barbies or army guys, and I’ve only ever played Candy Land a handful of times.  I let them play outside without direct supervision, don’t care all that much about if they sleep in my bed or theirs or on the couch.  I’m pretty strict about somethings, but one thing I do exceptionally well is comfort.  I held my babies as much as I could.  I nursed well into toddlerhood, and if a kid is crying, I’m pretty sure that we both agree that the best place to do it is in my arms.  I don’t leave them with sitters (although that’s more financial than anything else), and I hate dropping them off anywhere when they don’t want to go.

Dropping Julie at preschool was hellish.  For both of us – and all my instincts were screaming at me to scoop her up and bring her home.  She didn’t HAVE to go – I was just going home anyway.  She’s only three and a half, for God’s sake.  Why should I be dropping my sobbing sad baby girl off with strangers in the first place?    Especially because she would go up into the castle and curl up in a fetal position – and it felt completely like I was putting her in a cage for two hours to cry until I came to get her.

But, as we finish up her second week of preschool, I’m so incredibly glad that I didn’t cave and bring her home with me.  She’s so proud of herself!  She’s still not 100% convinced that she loves preschool, and still gets a little misty at drop off – but she settles down so fast and then she’s out there running around and playing with everyone.  She talks about preschool all the time, is full of stories about her new friends and things that Miss Lilia says and was so proud of the picture she made for me today.

Because what’s best isn’t what’s easiest.  If I had taken her home, the way I wanted to, the way she wanted me to – she would have missed all this.  She wouldn’t have had the opportunity to see that she could do it without me, that she could trust that the people there would take care of her, and that she could make new friends and explore the sandbox and make pictures with puffy paint.

Sam’s had some major anxiety issues, and in all the research I’ve done, the one thing that struck me the most was that with a kid who’s suffering from anxiety, comforting them just reinforces the fear.  It teaches them that they can’t do it without you, that they are right to feel afraid, and that the only safe place is with you.  As a mother, that’s such a HARD concept, and if I hadn’t experienced it first hand, I wouldn’t have believed it.  I don’t entirely blame myself for the struggles Sam faced starting school.  Looking back, there are things I could have done that might have made it easier, but I did the best I could with the information I had at the time.  And Sam is a different child than Julie is – as freaked out as Julie was, Sam was a lot more traumatized by starting school.  But leaving her at school went against everything I wanted to do – and I’m so, so glad that I did it.  Because Girlfriend loves preschool, and I can see how happy and proud she is.

 

Gratitude Post

Yeah, it’s time for another stop-complaining-about-your-life-and-be-grateful-for-what-you-have-and-quit-focusing-on-whats-bugging-you post.  It’s been a rough few weeks, and I’m frazzled and frustrated and impatient all the time.  So, more of a reminder for myself than anything else – here’s a list of what I love most about my life.

1.  My husband.  We’ve been together almost eleven years, and he’s my best friend and constant source of support.  He’s always, always on my side and I’ve never once doubted that marrying him was the best decision I ever made.

2.  My Jessica.  She’s smart and funny and kind and exactly what I always, always wanted.  She and I snuggled up in bed last night together and laughed and laughed together.  She’s got the best sense of humor and the older she gets, the more I like her.

3.  My Samilicious Boy.  He’s so damn cute, with his hair growing out in what he hopes will be a “Sheldon Cooper haircut.”  He’s loving first grade, happy as can be.  He’s exactly who I always hoped he’d be, happy and confident and secure in who he is and where he’s going.  Watching him thrive is such a rewarding part of parenting.

4.  My Julianna Ruth.  She’s my hardest parenting challenge right now, and adjusting to preschool is terribly difficult on both of us.  My girl is struggling to figure out who she is, and forming an identity without me there.

5.  I’m grateful for my own ability to see that sometimes what’s easiest isn’t what’s best.  As hard as sending her to preschool is, and as wrong as it feels to watch her be sad and scared, I know that the lessons she’s learning are so valuable.  Learning to trust, to feel comfortable without me there is something that will help her so much later on.  I know that, and even though my instincts are to swoop her up and take her home with me forever, I know that she needs this.

6.  I’m also grateful that I can see the positive results every afternoon at pick up.  Because Girlfriend is so proud of herself, and so happy.  There’s no way to not see that preschool is wonderful for her, not when you see her afterwards.

7.  I’m grateful for a working car, and the ability to pay the insurance and put gas in it.  Because I spend more time there than anywhere else, and I’m glad that the radio works (even if it’s quirky and will only play one station, at least it’s a station I like most of the time).

8.  I’m grateful for the PJ Library, and the free Jewish music CD’s they send me periodically.  I don’t know Hebrew at all, but I do know that watching Julie dance and sing in the backseat in a language I don’t understand is actually one of my favorite parts about being in the car so much.

9.  I’m grateful for Worcester Public Library – that’s it’s close, the hours are super convenient, and it keeps me and my kids stocked up with good books to read.  My life would be significantly more stressful if I couldn’t chill out with a book, and there’s no way I’d ever be able to afford the steady diet of books if I was buying them instead of borrowing them.  My kids get new books every single time we go, and they’re so much more open to reading because it’s such a big part of my life.  The library is single-handedly responsible for that.

10.  I’m grateful for good friends, who volunteer to take over the Box Tops for me when I realize I’m drowning in volunteer responsibilities, and ones introduce my daughter to Jane Austin.  It would never have occurred to me to give Jessie Pride and Prejudice to read, and she’s loving it.  The friends that invite us over for dinner to hang out, and the ones who drop their kids off here so my kids have best friends to run around with.  I’m grateful for the ones that call me and don’t hate me when I don’t remember to call back.

I’m also grateful for a few quiet moments, Doc McStuffins and potato chips and ketchup (don’t judge me, it kept the girl quiet enough for me to get this blog post done).  Because I need this – I need quiet and calm and peace, just a few minutes, now and then.  To center, to breathe and in the end, to write.  Because writing is what enables me to step back and see my life not for the harried, stress-filled, errand running, laundry folding, dinner preparing hot mess it seems to be, but rather the amazingly blessed, completely fulfilled and content life that it is.  I’m exactly where I want to be, with children I adore and a man I can’t imagine my life without.  I’ve got ambitions and goals, and dreams that are just on the horizon.

I’ve got a plan

That’s what Julie said to me last night.  Her plan involved me sitting in the lobby at her preschool, and then she wouldn’t cry.  She asked me over and over again, each time insisting that this was a great idea.  And because I love her, and because really, all I was going to do was catch up on laundry and try and find the living room (sigh…), I said okay.  We discussed it at length, where I would sit, she was very concerned that there be a table available for my coffee.

I should have sensed it wasn’t going to work when she failed miserably (literally) to hold up her end of the bargain.  Drop off was just as wretched as it was the other days, with the added bonus of her actually screaming that she didn’t like me anymore, as she clutched her little burp cloth (her new “lovey”) and beloved Blue Puppy.  But I soldiered on – I had told her I’d stay and stay I would.

Even though I could hear her screaming.

Normally, she stops right way, but because she knew I was there, she kept screaming today.  For an hour and a half.  Which sounds like a lot, until I remember that her brother topped nearly four hours his first year in kindergarten.  But regardless of how she compares – my baby has never cried for an hour and a half in her entire life.

I finally left, but only after the preschool director and her teacher assured me that she had calmed down.  That she would be fine, and that I should leave her there for the full session.  I cried all over my mother on the phone on the way down to pick up Marc, and was sure that when I got back to pick her up, Girlfriend would be curled in a fetal position, still sobbing.

Lo and behold – I went to pick her up, and couldn’t immediately locate her on the playground.  Every other time I’ve gone to pick her up, she’s been right by the door, scared and timid, afraid to venture out into the playground.  My first thought was that she had been so disruptive that they had taken her out of the classroom, and I was going to find her somewhere else.  But she was actually out and about, PLAYING IN THE SANDBOX.  I use all caps because she’s never actually engaged with the other kids, let alone wandered into the SANDBOX.  She came running over to me, delighted to see me, and waved goodbye to all her little friends.  I was holding her and surrounded by four or five little girls all hollering “Goodbye Julie!”

Lesson learned – don’t follow Julie’s plans.  Because Girlfriend knows not what’s best for her, and in the end, what’s best for her is to drop her off quickly and don’t linger.  Even though it feels completely wrong – because she was so happy.  She was delighted when we got home, and chose to stay home and play all afternoon.  I had errands to run all afternoon, and I thought for sure she’d be clinging to me, scared and traumatized after the morning – but she was happy to stay home with Daddy, to play with her big brother after school.  She’s not traumatized, she had a great day.  Except for the first hour and a half.

My introduction to motherhood

I miscarried my first pregnancy.  I lost twins, one at ten weeks, and one at eleven weeks.  And even though it was over a decade ago, sometimes the grief still has the power to slam into me and break my heart like it was yesterday.

I had a rough morning today – nothing out of the ordinary, but not easy either.  Tuesdays and Thursdays, I bring Julianna into preschool, along with dropping the older two off at school.  Instead of just having to get the two older ones ready, I have to get all three up, dressed, hair done, did you pee yet, lunches packed, backpacks assembled and out the door by eight.  In theory, adding one more child shouldn’t make a lot of difference, but in reality, she’s two or three times the effort of the older ones, simply because she’s three and they’re seven and ten.

Plus – preschool is hard.  Drop off is especially hard, and this morning was the first morning when she was sad about going.  Just sad.  Teary – not angry or tantrumming (which would have been easier) but wiping away tears and sad.  I know that preschool is what’s best for her, I know that she’s going to love it – but right now, she doesn’t.

In theory, today went better at drop off than the other two days.  Julie has this spot, her safe space that she goes to, in the classroom.  Her “castle” – which is really like a loft type thing, stairs leading up to a platform with bars and a rail, and underneath it is a little cubby for kids to play in.  Julie spends virtually the whole time she’s in preschool in the castle.  Which, as her teachers have explained to me, is normal and natural and actually good.  Because she’s claiming safe space, and able to observe what’s going on until she’s comfortable.  She’s self-soothing, and learning how to be without me.  Which is all good.  In theory.  But it feels like I’m putting her in a cage for her to sit for two hours until I come back to get her.

I dropped her off, and while intellectually, I know the process is best not dragged out, and she’s going to cry, but she stops quickly and the longer I try to soothe her, the worse it is on both of us, it’s still so hard to just walk away.  But I did, and she stopped crying before I was out of the building.  She’s still in her castle (I just called to check) but her teacher said she’s not sad, she’s quiet and calm and relaxed, but still observing.  On the way home, though, I was listening to the radio, and heard this song that brought me right back, mentally, to the loss of the twins.

I was a happy girl.  Before becoming a mother, I was just genuinely happy.  Cheerful, relaxed.  I liked life, a lot.  And up until the loss of the twins, I was happy.  This one song, by Travis Tritt, of all people, is called “It’s a Great Day to Be Alive” and it’s written from the perspective of a biker dude with tattoos and not at all something that you’d think that I’d relate to.  But the first time I heard it, I started crying so hard I had to pull the car over because I couldn’t see.  Because I couldn’t fathom ever feeling that way again.  Just happy, and aware of how awesome it was just to be alive.  The loss of my babies was so wrenching, it fundamentally changed who I am.

Sometimes I can hear the song, and just get a little wistful, a little sad.  But sometimes, rarely, I hear the song and have to pull over because I can’t see thru the tears.  Today was one of those days – and it wasn’t just because of the twins.  It was because Julie was so very sad without me, and even though my head wants her to go to school, my heart breaks every Tuesday and Thursday.  It was because Jessie has to learn how to deal with people who aren’t always sensitive and kind, and I don’t want her scared and hurt.  It’s because Sam goes out into the world and it’s been such a long, hard road to get him to where he’s happy about it.

Because motherhood is hard and my first introduction to it was the overwhelming grief.  It wasn’t just the loss of my twins, it was the loss of that girl who was just happy.  Who didn’t have these three children, a girl who’s idea of happiness wasn’t incredibly and unalterably linked to the health, happiness and well being of Jessie, Sam and Julie.  I was innocent in so many ways, so much less than I am now, not as aware, not as strong, and nowhere near as content.  I’m stressed and frazzled now, and harried and impatient and busy in a way that I couldn’t have comprehended before.   I’m on a whole other level of happiness, the joy and contentment and utter and complete rightness of being a parent – it’s not even comparable to the ‘happy girl’ that I used to be.  Before the miscarriage.  Before becoming a mother.  Depths of sadness and despair, and worry that I’ll never fully escape, unbelievable challenges to my core beliefs, rethinking everything about what I thought I knew, and joy and a calm and a bliss that’s so much more than I expected.  Becoming pregnant again, not once, but three times.  Each child has changed me, each child has taught me.  Each child has brought not only so much to my life, but also added so much more emotional weight to my life.  It’s not just having your heart permanently walking around outside your body, like the old cliche, it’s having your heart split into three pieces, and two others pieces that you’ll just never get back.

Motherhood is hard for me.  It’s hard for everyone – and it’s wonderful and amazing and changes everything.  Today, I realized that my twins weren’t just a horrible, horrible loss, they were what started me on this journey.  And sometimes it breaks my heart and hurts more than I can express.  But more often, it inspires me and fills me with purpose and joy and contentment.  These three children, and the two that I loss, they’ve changed me.  I’m not as innocent, my view of happiness is a lot more intricate now, a lot richer and more intense.

And sometimes, even now, I can still say that it’s a great day to be alive, I know the sun’s still shining when I close my eyes.  I know now that the happiness I used to feel was so much less than what I feel now, because my world has expanded in ways I couldn’t have know before losing my babies.  Before having my babies.  Before becoming a mother.  And even if that means that there are days when I’m going to feel like I’m being emotionally battered, when dropping my baby off is hard and worrying about my ten year old is in the back of my mind, and when the loss of my twins is in the forefront, when the house is a mess and the laundry is building up, and I’m stressed and busy and behind in everything – I wouldn’t go back for anything in the world.

 

 

Busy, busy, busy

Things have been an absolute whirlwind around here lately.  We’ve had the High Holidays (with Yom Kippur coming up on Friday night/Saturday) over the weekend, the first full week of school starting, Julianna starting preschool, my aunt has been staying with us, and oh yeah, I volunteered to head Sisterhood at the synagogue, as well as Box Tops at the kids’ elementary school, Room Mother at Julie’s preschool, and I’m also doing stuff for a PJ Library birthday event in December.  Marc started his new job at Home Depot, and dance class starts this week for the girls, and boy scouts for the Boy.

Overall, I’d say that school is off to a good start.  Jessie has had a couple of hiccups, adjusting to new teachers and new routines, but she’s settling in and seems to be pretty happy about it.  Sam is adjusting beautifully to first grade.  Adores his teacher, and is loving the fact that he gets homework now.

Julianna, on the other hand… well, it depends on your perspective, I guess.  In theory, she loves preschool.  Talks about it all the time, smiles when she tells you about her teachers and her new friends.  Is happy to get ready in the morning, and walks into class with a bounce in her step.  It goes downhill from there, she gets a little sadder and a little sadder until she’s crying and begging me to stay with her.  She’s only gone two days, and thus far, I’ve cried each morning after I leave her there.  It’s so hard… but she calms down fast, and even if she isn’t actively participating all that much yet, each day is a little better.  In contrast, when we started Sam in preschool, he was absolutely, undeniably miserable about the entire thing.  Hated going, hated talking about it, was literally depressed.  It was very different… so even though the transition of drop off is hard, Julie’s much happier overall about preschool, and I think that she’s really going to love it once she gets used to it.  Because if you don’t see her at drop off, you’d think she adored it.

I love the High Holidays, and I know think that they should come this early every year.  In fact, I’m also delighted about Hanukkah coming so early as well (with the obvious disadvantage being that I have traditionally been a last minute shopper, a Christmas Eve kind of shopper, and popping Hanukkah into November is sending me into a tailspin).  Because it jump starts my Jewish year.  I’m baking challah and singing prayers with Julie in the car while driving (thank goodness for PJ library CDs).

Rosh Hashana

(reprinted from Central MA Jewish Voice www.jewishcentralvoice.com)

It’s the holiday that I can celebrate without any conflicts, without any challenges or questions.  On Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, I’m just as Jewish as everyone else.  As a convert with very close ties to my family, Passover and Hanukkah aren’t as simple.  I have to work at balancing out my desire to celebrate as a Jew, and also my desire not to hurt my extended family by refusing to participate in their celebrations.

Passover inevitably overlaps Easter.  My family is nominally Catholic, and the Christian roots of the holiday have been mostly lost in our traditions.  Easter is a celebration of spring, and an excuse to go overboard with decorations, baked goods and a massive egg hunt.  My husband and I keep kosher for Passover, except for Easter.  I let my kids do whatever they feel comfortable with when it comes to eating at their grandmother’s house on Easter Sunday.  I make sure that there are Kosher-for-Passover treats available as well, but I work at minimizing any guilt.

Celebrating with my side of the family is a part of their childhood, and I don’t want them to feel as though they aren’t a part of the festivities.  Sometimes they skip the baked goods, and focus on the chocolate covered matzo. Sometimes they don’t.  Luckily, Passover lasts for eight days – and we make sure that the kids are able to participate in it as much as possible.  We attend family Seders, and also make sure to throw a “friend” Seder on the last night.  Creating our own traditions helps to make more our own.

Hanukkah is like a little island of peace in a sea of chaos and activity.  As much as I try to make it stand out for my kids, I know it gets lost in the glory of the tree and the lights and the candy canes and all of the magic associated with Christmas.  Like Easter, it’s not as much of Christian holiday for my family, but my mother’s decorating is legendary.  She’d be devastated if I didn’t allow my children to participate as much as her other grandchildren.  My favorite years are when they don’t coincide, when we can celebrate Hanukkah by itself and then dive into the merry mess that is the end of December.  I breathed a sigh of relief that Hanukkah starts on Thanksgiving this year.

As a convert, I struggle a lot with balance.  Because the truth is that without kids, I’d have a much easier time.  I’d still attend Easter Sunday at my mother’s house, and I’d still love sitting in the living room, watching the lights twinkle on her tree in December.  It would be so much easier to say that I celebrate with my family, but it’s not my holiday.  But I’m also the mother of her grandchildren, and these holiday traditions are so much a part of my childhood. It feels wrong to convince my kids that they shouldn’t feel as connected to my family celebrations.  Christmas and Easter are their holidays too – they just aren’t religious holidays for us.  I try to remember the commandment of honoring my parents.  I remind myself that their Jewish identity is going to be based on a lot more than what they do on Easter Sunday and December 25.  I’m raising my children as Jews, in a Jewish family.  We belong to a synagogue; have Shabbat dinner every Friday night.  They don’t question their Jewish identity; it’s simple and clear for them; less so for me.

But Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur don’t have any conflicts associated with them.  It’s the start of the holiday season, a holiday season that I can embrace without any guilt or conflicting emotions.  I love making a huge dinner for our extended family, and digging out all the New Year’s decorations from last year.  We have oceans of PJ Library books specifically for the holidays, and I start reading them to the kids in the weeks leading up to the holidays.  We listen to the shofar being blown, and recognize the call to action.  Apple picking and baking, and every year I try to bake a round loaf of challah, and always fail miserably.  The ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are a time of reflection and discussion. We talk about resolutions, and what we wish we had done better and differently, and promise to try harder next year.  At the end of the day on Yom Kippur, we break the fast with family and friends, and begin thinking about sukkah building and decorating, all leading up to Simchat Torah.

I suppose it’s not completely true that Rosh Hashanah is my favorite Jewish holiday.  I love the Passover story, and the ritual of the Seder.  I love the candles on Hannukah and the look on my children’s faces as they light them.  But the fall holidays are the ones that I can celebrate without reservations or questions.  As the air turns cool, and I start focusing on another school year, with the promise of new challenges and rewards, I find myself aching for the celebration of the New Year, for the reflection and prayer of Yom Kippur.  I start thinking about where we’ll put the sukkah this year, and getting ready for the dancing of Simchat Torah.  After ten years, the Jewish fall holidays have become a part of my internal calendar, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to share them with my family.

Why did I think this was a good idea????

My stomach is in knots, and I’m teetering on the edge of tears when I think about it.  Julie starts preschool tomorrow.  I know it’s illogical.  I know that this will be really, really good for my girl, and I know that I need to make sure that I don’t show any of my reservations to her.  I know all that.

But that’s my baby, and I don’t want her to go.

She’s my last one, but that doesn’t really matter.  I was just as misty when Sam and Jessie started school.  It’s more that she’s just barely three and a half, and I’m not ready for her to be bouncing off to school like she’s five.  Of course, I know that if she was five, she’d be leaving me for SIX HOURS EVERY DAY instead of two hours twice a week.  So she’s not bouncing off like she’s five, she’s getting a little socialization, a little stimulation, a little confidence building time without Mama in a safe environment where she’ll be happy and content and love it.

But I still want to cry.   Okay, I am crying.

She’s getting far too big, far too fast.  So much of this (and by this, I mean parenting in general) is a struggle to survive.  But when you aren’t ripping your hair out because they won’t stop fighting, or killing yourself to stay awake thru another just one more story, or cleaning up, again, the living room you swear was perfectly presentable just an hour ago – you’re trying desperately to keep up.  Because they KEEP GROWING.  God willing, they keep growing.  Diapers and burp cloths turn into potties and my little ponies, stuffed ducks and board books turn into army guys and Harry Potter so much faster than you think they will.

What I love most about parenting, watching them grow and learn and develop and turn into these incredible little people is also what I hate the most.  Because with the growth comes loss of what was before.  My ten year old isn’t my tiny baby, the one that shushed when I whispered it when she was two days old and I thought she was a genius.  My seven year old isn’t my little guy, who toddled around, picking up toys and putting them in a bucket, claiming he was a gahbage guy.  And my three year old isn’t my little baby girl, who napped every day at ten, two and five, and was perfectly content all the time, as long she was in my arms.

I’ll send her to preschool tomorrow, and I’ll hold it together.  I’ll spend today gathering her outfit, and decorating her shoe box to bring in.  We’ll read all the books I’ve found about how AWESOME preschool is, and I’ll rattle off the names of the kids who’ll be in her class, so she’ll feel more comfortable with them tomorrow.

And then I’ll get in my car to drive home.  And cry.  Probably a lot.  And hope like hell that I can remember that even though I don’t have a baby home full time with me anymore (like I have for the past almost eleven years), I’ve got a really incredible little girl.  And she’s smart, and funny, and sweet, and she’s going to love preschool.