I'm really a "fly by the seat of my pants" kind of parent. Really, I am.
Sure, I've bought the books, taken the classes and eavesdropped on what I thought were the more parental of all the parents out there. But when it boils right down to it, right down to the nitty gritty, I do what feels right. Always have, always will.
That's why, when the one remaining child lock in our home fell off the kitchen cupboard tonight, I snapped right along with it into a jumbled heap of tears and pain, unable to hold myself up. For I, like the brittle plastic that had seen far too many tugs upon it's weakened structure over the past five years from a very determined young girl, had finally broken.
My baby was growing up.
I could put off turning in those kindergarten registration papers for eternity, and that would not stop her.
I could walk by the sign-up sheet for preschool next year and pretend that it was business as usual and that I'd be sending in a check to hold her spot for yet another year, and that would not stop her.
I could do just about anything, wear blinders all day and cart her around in a stroller (of all things!), and that would not stop her either.
For just as she has made up her mind about every other milestone in her life, this change has come upon us and she is, and no longer will be, my baby.
Sure, we parents say to our children, "You will always be my baby. Even when you are a parent yourself, you will still be my baby and I will still be your parent." But that isn't really the case, is it? Fact is, they grow. They grow up and they leave us and it all begins with that lone piece of babyhood that we were cradling, clinging to, grasping at with hopes that it would be forever in our presence, and then it is no longer there. It either is removed or it breaks, right along with our heart and any semblance to the baby that used to be.
And before we know it, there are boys and dances and drivers licenses, and we're left at home with a giant bowl of popcorn and some Lifetime movie, watching the clock only to hear a car drive up to the house and then pretend like we had fallen asleep and we were not, in fact, really biting off what is left of our fingernails waiting for our baby to come home.
Oh, the growing and the up!
So for now, I'll play parent and get those registration forms turned in. I have, after all, had them completed for weeks. I'll smile and inform the preschool that while it's been a wonderful THREE years with them, the time has come on to enroll Katie in real school. Real school, where she'll have a desk and school supplies and maybe even recess. Recess!
But damned if I'm going to remove those outlet covers I still have in 90% of the outlets around here!
She's not getting off that easy.
Besides, I don't think my heart can take it right now.