On Monday I registered Mannchen for Kindergarten. Woah. Real deal school.
The night before I mentioned to Hubby that I couldn't believe he was old enough for me to actually take this step. His response was along the lines of "Seriously?!". Which got me thinking.
He's right. Mannchen is five and a half. He'll turn six right around the time school starts. He has a great attention span. He's not hyperactive. He's eager to learn to read. He loves puzzles and math. He's (maybe...on the good days) learning self control and body control when he's with his friends - that translates to "we don't have to touch/hug/wrestle/fall on the floor together everyday coming and going from school". He's as ready as a kid can possibly be to start school. And yet, as his mama, it's still hard to believe.
Some of my difficulty with wrapping my mind around something like this stems from wanting to give my kids a Waldorf education at home for so long. But after digging deeper in Waldorf education principles and Steiner's philosophies on development, reading so many other books, and watching my children grow in preschool this past year, I really think sending them to school is best for them. It saddens me that they won't get a Waldorf education - there are so many beautiful aspects to it. But reality is, there's no Waldorf school within hours of us....so yeah, that's not happening. The public schools in our town are about as good as public schools get. The elementary school we're zoned for is small and has high parent involvement. Trust me, I've spent hours analyzing and thinking about what will be best for Mannchen next year. And there's no way I would send him to the public elementary school if I wasn't comfortable with it. So while I recognize what we're missing, I'm mostly comfortable with our change of plans.
But as I was running this morning, I kept thinking about this. And why does this seem like such a shift in our life. And it hit me. This has nothing to do with Mannchen. It has everything to do with my personal realization that we are nearing the end of a era in our house. Töchterchen is not much younger than Mannchen (14 months ain't much in parenting time). Before I get a chance to blink, I'll be registering her for Kindergarten also. Up until this point, my life and days have revolved around meeting their basic needs and finding way to make our family run as smoothly as possible, while managing two babies/toddlers/preschoolers.
And we're nearing the end of that era. If I've learned anything since the kids were born, it's that time goes fast once you have children. We're not totally there yet, but we are close enough that I am able to recognize that soon both my children will be in school from 8:30-3:30. SEVEN hours is a lot of time to fill. I work part-time. And I do enough cleaning, errands, running, etc to quickly fill the rest of the time. It's not that I don't know what to do with myself once they are in school (I already went through that early mid-life crisis when I considered going back to school). It's just that I'm recognizing the shift in how much time I get with my kids.
They are awesome kids. All kids will wear you down. All kids will push your buttons. But your own kids are always worth it. We have so much fun working in the yard together. We love to spend an entire day crafting on a rainy day. We love to spend a whole morning or afternoon at the park. We love to snuggle on the couch and read books (or on occasion, watch a movie). We love to ride bikes at the track. We love to cook together. Really, the list goes on and on.
So, I wouldn't say I feel sadness about sending Mannchen off to Kindergarten next year. I just feel a huge awareness that our number of hours together each day are growing shorter. And the year following him, Töchterchen will head off to Kindergarten. And I don't have any other babies. And I never will. And the era of precious, helpless little people, depending on me for most everything ALL DAY LONG will be over. As will the era of spending day after day, filled with hour upon hour, together.
And so, in the meantime, we are going to LIVE this summer up. Less work for me. Hubby will be right here, at home, working in town. Maybe one camp per kids...maybe no camps for the kids Time. Just glorious, glorious time together.