guest post by Marie Osborne.
Kindergarten is looming large on the horizon at our house. We’ve been awaiting this day for quite some time. Now that it’s here, I don’t know what I’m going to do with all these feelings.
When my son was a baby, Kindergarten seemed so far away. Kindergarten seemed like my ticket to freedom. One day, he’ll be in school and then I’ll be able to [fill-in-the-blank]. I’ll reclaim a little of the independence I lost when I became a mom.
When he was a baby, Kindergarten seemed like the opportunity to go back, to get back to who I once was. Now that it’s here, I’m realizing it’s not about reclaiming who I was, but moving forward into becoming more.
Starting school is a big deal for my little man. I know that school will challenge and change him. He will be changed by the influence of his peers, the classroom environment, personal growth both intellectually and relationally. He’ll make new friends, learn new things, and gain new experiences in a million different ways. He’ll gain independence and have a section of his life that is completely separate from me, and I from him.
That’s the part I focused on when he was a baby, the separation from each other. I dreamed of the hours I would have to myself to think my own thoughts and be my own me. Having a baby or a toddler, that’s what you dream of–that light at the end of the tunnel, that day when you will be able to drop your child off at Kindergarten for the entire day and go about your business.
But as Kindergarten approaches, I’m realizing that it’s not the “light at the end of the tunnel” that I assumed. This is where the rubber really hits the road in parenting. This is where I begin to make a life long impression.
He’ll remember these days and me in them. He’ll remember what I did and how it jived with what I said. He’ll remember for his entire life the lessons we will begin teaching him this year about Jesus and people and hard-work and success and failure. Yes, I get to drop him off for extended periods of time, but the hours of “work” I do have with him are much more intense.
As draining as it was to nurse him for 8-10 hours per day as a newborn, or chase him around and attempt to keep him safe as a toddler, guiding him and coaching him through life is pretty darn exhausting, and we are just getting started. He asks us questions about death and where babies come from and why we can’t be perfect like God. He asks about the Trinity and “Wait a minute! Do we have three gods?” He asks about kids that are different and kids that are “weird” and adults that are “creepy.”
Starting school really isn’t the oasis I thought it was at all. It was just a mirage.
I’m still in the thick of parenting, and now I’m approaching a more spiritual and emotionally intense season than I’ve ever experienced before. (Plus, I’m potty training twins, so this month is going to be rough!)
Holding Them Loosely
But as I see Kindergarten edging closer, I find that I’m both terrified and excited by what lies ahead. I see the prospect of truly, actually raising him up in the Lord, the real work of guiding him in the way he should go, and the awesome task of coaching him through life.
No longer is parenting about the mind-numbing tasks of diaper changing, food prep, block stacking, spit-up cleaning and the like. Now I’ve got to really get my head in the game. I need to be available for conversation, aware of when he needs it, intentional about how to encourage it, strategic about when to leave it. I need to be present and yet allow independence, protect yet allow failure, stand up yet also step down.
As my firstborn enters school for the first time, he will be learning a whole new set of skills and so will I. As he learns to communicate through written word, I need to learn to draw him out in conversation. As he learns mathematical concepts, I need to study the parts of him that make up the whole. As he delves into science, I need to observe him, make notes, and test some relational hypotheses. As he gets a greater understanding of history, I need to dig into my own story and determine how it might impact him through me.
The First Day of School
My baby will step out of my car and walk into that school room, ready to absorb all the teacher has for him. I hope I will too. I’m praying that I will listen attentively for God’s instruction as I parent in this new season. I pray that I’ll have my “listening ears” turned on and my eyes open wide to learn about and from my son as well. I pray that I’ll embrace this season for what it is–not a chance to “get my freedom back,” but an awesome opportunity to submit to God, serve my son, and mature right along side my baby boy.
For those of us sending our little ones into the classroom for the first time, let’s walk eagerly into a classroom of our own. It’s a classroom where God gently guides us as we gently guide our little ones, keeping our eyes fixed on the ultimate Light at the end of the tunnel, our eternity with Christ.
Marie is a wife, mama, and writer who loves Jesus and large, non-fat lattes. As a former high school theater geek, I currently use all my acting and vocal training reading “Where The Wild Things Are” and singing “Jesus Loves Me” before night-night time. Check out her e-mail series For When You’re Pregnant, a weekly e-mail encouragement for expectant moms.