I could feel it coming on a few days prior to the actual event. There was a subtle shift in the air, a feeling of repetition that caught us all off guard.
After nearly three months of pajama walks, swimming, and nature hunts around town, suddenly we were thrown into the system. Out of nowhere, it seemed, the mornings became rushed, the meals became a project, and late became a bad word (not good news for this terminally late mommy)…
The excitement of the first week got us off to a great start. Wrapped up in new adventures, we quickly made our way down the street each morning to see what awaited in Kindergarten. With hugs and kisses and smiles galore we said our goodbyes for the morning.
For a few days, it seemed almost too good to be true. While I held back tears almost every morning, my sweet girl didn’t shed a single tear. She was brave, strong, and independent.
Until the weekend.
Until she had time to lounge around in her beloved pajamas while eating fresh baked pumpkin spice donuts with her daddy. Until she didn’t have to race, didn’t have to remember anything, and didn’t have to leave baby brother behind again. Until she could get back to the business of playing.
Suddenly, the new adventure didn’t seem quite so new and exciting anymore.
Suddenly, she felt trapped between two worlds. Her mood shifted ever so slightly that day. By dinnertime, she was lost in thought and stared off to a faraway place.
Under the cover of darkness, she finally broke her silence.
I really love my Kindergarten class, but I miss being home. It’s so busy and fast, and I don’t get to play with baby brother in the morning.
I sat quietly, waiting for her to finish.
This is a big change, sweet girl. Five days is more than three, and we had a fun summer together, us three. We stayed in our pajamas and baked cookies and swam almost every day. This is a big change.
Her espresso colored eyes appeared large and rimmed with worry. She stared back at me, waiting for more.
I am proud of you every single day. We miss you too, sweet girl. But you know what the best part of my day is? Hearing all about your morning while we hold hands the whole way home.
Satisfied, she closed her eyes and slowly drifted off to sleep. Our hands still entwined, I kneeled by her bed and watched her for a little while, until I could be sure that her worries were gone.
Three days later, the tears rained down like a waterfall.
She awoke with a cry, a soft whimper filtering through her monitor. I entered the darkened room to find her hiding under her favorite quilt, the one with ladybugs worn nearly to a thread.
What’s wrong, sweet girl? Do you feel ok?
Muffled sobs escaped her throat as her body shuddered in response.
I don’t know what’s the matter. I just can’t go. I’m too tired. It’s too hard to go every day. Can you ask my teacher if I can just go four?
I crawled into her bed and wrapped my arms around her, attempting to envelop her in love and safety…an impossible task at the time.
I understand. I know it’s hard. I felt that way too, when I was little. It’s a lot of stress. It’s a lot of change.
She turned to nuzzle her face into my neck and sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. I tried to put on my brave mommy face. I tried to be strong for her.
Over and over, I whispered words of comfort to ease her worried mind. Over and over I stated the obvious - Mommy always loves you…
Until that one defining moment, when my brave mommy face finally collapsed. Silently, I cried beside her while holding her close to my heart.
I wish it were four days too, sweet girl. With all my heart, I wish that too…
Katie is a Child & Adolescent Psychotherapist/Parenting Expert in Los Angeles, CA. She has a four year old daughter, three year old son, and a rock and roll husband who makes her life complete. Katie has a parenting advice blog, Practical Parenting, and can also be found on Twitter.