My daughter starts Kindergarten in twenty-eight more days, and yes, I’m counting.
The thing is, since before she was born, I’ve been counting with her. In the beginning, it was just how many more days until I reached the next trimester of pregnancy, how many more days until Greyson was no longer an only child, and how many days could I possibly go past my due date before my Midwife gave her an eviction notice. Shortly after her birth, it was how many minutes she had nursed, how many hours we succeed in a certain brand of cloth diaper before a major leak, and how many hours I had left caring for two tiny humans before my husband got home from the day.
I can’t forget sleep-or the lack of. Charlotte did.not.sleep. Ever. A ten minute car nap between leaving the grocery store and home, was the equivalency of twelve hours of sleep on cold medicine. At her sixth month photo shoot, girlfriend was doing downward-dog poses, and by 8.5 months she was walking, closely followed by her running after her big brother, and her new obsession: our cat Marigold. How did one tiny person (as in only the 20th% for height and weight) have this much energy, curiosity, and pack more in a day as a tiny tyrant toddler of sleep smuggling? I counted the minutes it took to finally get her to sleep for the night, and enjoyed seeing when I got a full three hours and seven minutes of sleep before spending the next two hours and twelve minutes fighting with her to go to sleep again, as she sat on my lap touching my face as if she needed to memorize every fine line and worry wrinkle she was causing me.
And then, the unimaginable happened: we got pregnant again. My pregnancy with Theo is an entirely different story; one that I don’t like to talk about often, because it was miserable, intense, and full of fear. Instead of enjoying his pregnancy, I spent more time counting down the days when I would finally feel better again. We brought Theo home from the hospital, when Charlotte was 21 months old. And, guess what she did?
She slept through the night. From that moment forward, I knew that it would never be the same. Charlotte, unknowingly overnight accepted her title of not only being the middle child, but being the only sister; the small sister that we can all count on. The next morning is when I stopped counting with her.
Parents are told too many times that the years are short, and to enjoy every moment, and that it’s not okay to want to run away from your children. But, guess what? The years are too short. The years are full of enjoyable moments. It’s also okay to have too many demands to meet in the day in raising tiny humans that the thought of a true break seems fleeting, and guilty, and that it’s not okay to want to be away from the army of children that you’ve created. And, so to deal with the daily flow, we start counting again.
We count how many months until they are ready to potty train, and the months before they start Preschool, and the distance between older and younger siblings in school to consider the cost of their education and if, when, maybe, and how.
So, here we are. The days of counting on, planning for, and memorizing, have led to: your child is starting Kindergarten.
For those with children who are moving off to college, maybe you wish you could be sending your child off to Kindergarten all over again…I’m not sure. I’ve got years between now and then, and I’m not counting how long that time is. For now, I’m going to sit here with my baby girl next to me, as she erases and draws again the horn on the Unicorn she’s been working on all afternoon. We’ve got nothing but time.