Recently I picked up a packet of forms from our local elementary school. It’s Kindergarten registration time and come September I will have a child old enough to attend. Not only is she old enough to attend, she is more than ready.
Like most parents’ I have watched my child achieve many a milestone. Milestones that are written about in baby books and on the pamphlets we take home from the hospital. As a parent, I’ve met milestones too. The first date night after baby, the first daycare drop off, returning to work, tossing the pacifier, buying that last box of diapers. Some of these transitions and changes have come with great emotion. Others with great relief.
As I spread the Kindergarten forms out on my kitchen table I waited for what I assumed would be feelings of shock or even sadness to arise. I looked at the beaming faces of the children on the school brochure. They were polished and content. Engaged and happy. She could easily be one of them I thought to myself. What surfaced with this realization was not sadness or shock or even a jolt of “how did this happen!”. I felt proud.
This milestone packaged in an orange envelope is one that marks the passage of time. Proof that yes, time does go by quickly. I have watched my daughter go from baby curls in tiny bows to long braids down her back. From splashing barefoot in puddles to flying leaps into the deep end of the pool. From learning to roll over to cartwheels in the back yard. But when she lays sleeping at night I can still see in the curve of her cheek the baby I desperately struggled to breastfeed, and recognize the toddler who lived in imaginary worlds created with her doll. These days, I see the emerging preschooler who is independent and kind and intense and strong. Her growth and her story are written all over her face and I choose to see her unfolding as a remarkable gift.
With the passage of time, motherhood has also revealed itself to me as a remarkable gift, and I have grown to view it like the branches reaching out from the sturdy tree that stands in my backyard. A branch that has never taken over fully and completely, or grown so out of control that it has choked out the other parts of me permanently. But rather, a branch that is part of a whole that grows in harmony and is supported by the wisdom, resiliency, and strength that is already present and alive. I think of myself like this tree, the pieces of me as the strong branches, and motherhood as but one of them.
I suppose this is why it is pride I feel rather than sadness or shock when I reflect on the place I now find myself. For it is the bitter sweet passage of time that got both me and my daughter here. And where is “here” exactly? It is with completed Kindergarten forms in hand, and another major milestone underway. Not just for the capable little girl in cardboard fairy wings, but also for me as her mother, committed to maintaining the necessary bend and sway and growth and trust needed to guide and love this tiny human well into her own journey. What a milestone. What a joy.
Julianne is the mother of a toddler and a preschooler, a Masters educated Social Worker, and a Certified Positive Parent Educator. Read more about her work at www.parentingcalmlivingconnected.ca