Monday, September 18, 2006

Day One


Whew! As Katie’s first day of preschool (real preschool, where Mommy drops her off for a couple of hours two times a week) was looming, I was growing more and more anxious about what that first morning would be like. I had visions of her clinging to my pantleg as I drug my foot across the threshold, crying “No Mommy, don’t go”. I had visions of barely making it to my car, fumbling for my keys (yeah, I lock my car in the preschool parking lot, even though it is technically a home out in the country) and collapsing my head on the steering wheel in a fit of tears because I was so sad to have my littlest off at school without me. I had a picture in my head of hearing her wails in the classroom as I waited outside for it to stop. Thankfully, my knack for over-thinking and over-worrying did not become a reality and my thoughts were not manifested into real life scenes on that first day.

Katie was talking about her “new” school for days before her official first day. After hearing all about her brother’s first days at school (they started 3 days before her), she seemed ready to contribute her own stories to their conversations and was excited and full of anticipation on that morning.

She admired her outfit in the mirror, posed with the dog for the traditional first-day-of-school photos and only insisted on bringing a small toy cowboy with her in the car.


When we arrived at the school, she was a little shy, but warmed up a bit as we went through the daily routine of hanging up her coat, finding her cubby and nametag and flipping her picture over on the chart to announce to the class that she was present. On to the hand washing and then back out into the classroom we went, accomplishing each of these tasks like we’d done it a hundred times before. I was a little sad about that, her willingness and easiness with the whole situation.

I mean, where was my needy, mommy-magnet toddler?

What happened to my baby?

She was replaced with a confident, self-assured and calm little girl who sat down at the art table with an assistant, kissed her Mom goodbye and picked up a glue stick.

I took this as my cue to high-tail it out of there before she had time to digest the emotions of several older, seasoned preschoolers around her who were begging their parents to stay, sniffling sad little tears and clinging to their Mommy’s pantlegs.

I made it out the door, no kiddo stuck to my foot. No screams of “Mommy don’t go” trailing behind me.

I made it to the car, opened (unlocked) the door and stared at the steering wheel, willing the tears to come. They did not. Instead, I turned OFF the children’s music playing a loud version of “Puff the Magic Dragon” (Katie’s choice for the ride to school) and turned ON my favorite radio station (had I been more prepared, I would’ve chosen the music for my first day, okay 2 hours, of freedom in 3 years, and had something appropriately rebellious and loud to listen to – but that adult radio station would do nicely).

What to do, what to do? I asked myself.

Target, the perfect destination for a solo Mommy.

Selecting the red plastic cart without needing to wipe it down with hand sanitizer felt liberating. The simplicity of tossing my purse in the child-seating area without buckling in a squirming toddler, without stopping to get a small bag of popcorn and an Icee, was freeing.

I was dealing well with my new-found freedom as I cruised up and down the aisles, smiling at the other childless Mommies who were strolling along with their eyes glazed over, a sense of calm enveloping all of us as we relished in the stillness of the store. Free to look at whatever we wanted and not be interrupted, a luxury long forgotten but quickly being discovered again. And then it hit me, like a ton of bricks.

I had forgotten my cell phone.

Party’s over. Forget that fun, coffee-drinking, shopping-filled morning that I had surrendered to, I was in full panic-mode.

What if she needs me?

What if she gets hurt and her teachers are trying to call me?

What if there is an earthquake?

I quickly paid for my purchases (not amounting to much since I’d only been there for 5 minutes) and drove as fast as I could (without breaking the law) home. I located my cell phone, picked it up and checked the “missed calls”. None. Whew. I picked up our land-line phone and checked the voicemail “1 new message”, my heart raced. Not the preschool, just a friend. Whew.

I watched the clock with the anticipation of the first man stepping out onto the moon, waiting for it to be time to pick Katie up.

And then, when I saw her riding the trike with her new friends and her delighted face when I called to her, I choked back the tears.

“Did you have fun?”

“Yes Mommy” she said, squeezing my neck harder than usual.

“Good.”

14 comments:

Mel said...

Why is everybody trying to make me cry today? Carrie, you knock me out. I loved this post. Loved it.

Lisa said...

Awww. This IS a wonderful post. They grow up so fast, don't they?

Anonymous said...

Brilliantly written (as usual). Made me feel not so lonesome so far from home. And, you continue to do everything just right. Thanks for being you, Carrie. UJ

Christina_the_wench said...

I can't help but giggle. It's been so many years since I had to go through this. It will get easier and you will enjoy your alone time more, worry-free. Trust me.

Mamacita Tina said...

I have to admit it, I needed a tissue. I'm going to be a mess in a year when Ian goes. So glad Katie had a great time. I can totally understand the panic over forgetting the phone, and then watching the clock waiting to pick her up. People say it gets easier, hard to imagine.

LindaJ said...

Oh, so now you panic over the phone...I see how you are. Just kidding. Great post.

Becky said...

awww that was sweet. i dread hannah's 1st day at preschool in a year. i think il'l be that crying mommy!

sunshine scribe said...

Oh I loved this post and have tears in my eyes Carrie!

I wish we could make time stand still.

C2 said...

What a bittersweet time for the both of you, so beautifully written. It will get easier for both you, as you know from your boys. I can attest to that as well, after being a Preschool Teacher for 10+ years. For now, catch the sales during the day, and experiment with all the wonderful flavors that coffee has to offer these days :)

Mommy off the Record said...

That was SUCH a great post. You might not have gotten teary eyed, but I did! Glad her first day went so well.

Lisa Goldstein/Kelly Kelly said...

That could not have gone better except of course for the cell phone panic. Iam so happy she had such a great time. and I am so excited for those free hours you now have. one more year for me. ...

Lisa

Pendullum said...

Where is the little girl I carried???
Sunrise Sunset...
Ohhh... I had such a moment...
Seems so long ago and yet yesterday when I was in the same boat... and the post brought it all home...

Left Coast Sister said...

You and I must be living parallel universes... our first just got started at pre-school this week, and I did the very same thing. But you wrote about it, whereas I haven't had the ability to put anything into words... you did it so perfectly, too...

Angry Dad said...

Man, you'd think with 3 it would get easier wouldn't it, but it doesn't whenever you leave them to do anything!