My daughter just started preschool and though it’s only been three days, and she’s gone only for 2 hours a day, I already feel like the house seems forlorn without the bumbling of My Little Miss Busy Bee.
I know I sound like one of those really clingy mamas, but I’m not. Really, I’m not. I had been wanting to send her off to preschool for almost a year now because I felt she lacked social exposure especially to kids her age. We stay in an area where the most predominant age group is upwards of 50. So while she’s quite comfortable among adults, she won’t mingle much with kids her age. Older kids are just fine by her. She loves her bhaiyas and didis 😀 😀
So finally when I did manage to find a good school in the vicinity, I got her enrolled immediately. I know a lot of parents go through a lot of pain and lose sleep at nights over admissions to schools of their choice. My sympathies folks, but luckily for me, I didn’t have to search for too long. I visited only one school that I’d heard a lot about, I found it good, and I enrolled her when I found they had a few slots available. I hope admission to her school in the future will be a cakewalk too
The night before school started for her, I was fawning and fussing over her while my husband looked on like I’d lost it. I admit I was acting weird. All clingy and almost weepy that my girl had grown up so soon and her school life had already started, how she’d be gone for hours now and soon enough gone to college…. I know I got waaaaaaaay ahead of myself. But I think I’m beginning to feel what parents of grown up kids feel when they move out or grow distant. I can’t explain how it is exactly, probably because she isn’t gone from home that long. For me it’s a mix of relief (for having time to myself), happiness (because I know she’s learning new things), worry (what if she doesn’t eat her lunch), fear (what if she hurt herself), anxiety (what if she feels lonely and abandoned) and outright loneliness (she and I are joined at the hip, because she and I are mostly alone, while Papa sails).
I drop her off and come back to a near silent home which now feels alien to me; we’re so used to her giggles, squeals and her tantrum trumpeting. Me and my husband end up talking mostly about her, even when she’s not around. We’ll oscillate between discussing what we could do to improve her acceptance of school rules, to how cute she looks in her pigtails and school uniform. I keep expecting her to come barging into the room, pull my hand or the hem of my shirt for attention, and speak in an urgent tone as if it was the most important thing in the world, even if it’s only about how her teddy bear is eating/sleeping/drinking/pooping/crying. Or I keep hoping to hear a ‘Mumma’ from some corner of the house, while she baits me to play hide and seek with her.
Then I have to tell myself to stop being ridiculous. It’s only two hours. Yes it is, but those 2 hours mean that I won’t be able to see those smiles, those moments and improvements in her myself. I’ll get only second hand information on some parent-teacher meeting or notes from her teacher in her Almanac. I won’t be able to see her share her food with the kids in the class, or witness her first secret with a friend, or for that matter witness her forging that first relationship with someone unrelated to her – her first friend.
I suppose you may call it jealousy, or fear of losing control. I call it love. Because when you’ve loved someone so much, cherished them, nurtured them, have had them by your side every day, every hour, so that you can recognise the scent of their skin, or the way their footsteps sound, their constant presence becomes a habit. It ceases to irritate you. You don’t feel like they’re intruding in your life. You feel like there would be no life without them.
I suppose that’s how empty nesters feel when their kids grow up. I at least know I have many more years to go. She will always come back home. But what about them?
But such is life. We are born, we grow up and then we grow old. At some point children have to separate from their parents, not just physically. We parents must teach ourselves that this separation is an important lesson in life. We must not grudge them their desire to break free and live on their own. Didn’t we want to do the same? We would want them to forever be with us and live the way we want them to live, but that’s not the lesson life teaches us. This cycle of new and old teaches us that everything and everyone has their own time and place, beyond which they become redundant. Parents too may become redundant after a point in their children’s lives. It sounds harsh, but it’s true. The sooner we understand that, the easier letting go becomes.
But for now, I’ll just tell myself, ‘It’s only two hours’…
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