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Pre-school Graduation: Taking a Moment to Embrace All the Emotions

The first of our boys has graduated. Well, yes, I mean from Pre-school. It was the first graduation I have attended as a mother of one of the graduates. I was emotional the entire week before graduation. I know every year I see blogs on this topic; it seems universal that pre-school graduation is emotional for moms and for good reasons.

As cliché as it is, it seems like yesterday I was bringing him home from the hospital. My entire goal was to keep the kid alive. He was my first baby and I often poured through parenting books at midnight to figure out what we needed. We learned together how to make it work. In the beginning, he was so dependent on me for survival and here in a blink he is maturing so beautifully. Yes, I realize there are many more years that he is still in my home and he is still pretty dependent on his parents, but this was a big milestone.

We have transitioned from optional pre-school with the frequency of our choosing to mandatory five-days-a-week. We are leaving behind our toddler years and leaping into the world of academia. While this boy-of-mine is beyond ready for academia and his future is bright, I think it’s fitting to take a moment and remember how far we have come.

Those early days were exhausting. It took us three months to figure out nursing. It was such a complicated skill for us to coordinate. Not much came natural for us. Then there was the transition back to work, ugh. I missed our morning walks, our day cuddles, and our leisurely play time. Then I transitioned home and we had such beautiful bonding time together. Lots of library time, swimming lessons and park play. We completed our recommended 1000 books before kindergarten by 18 months. We learned to crawl our own way (which baffled this PT mom). We learned to walk, run, he was so advanced with language and expressing emotions. Then we hit the independent stage and fought so many hours to buckle up in the car and new emotions emerged and we learned how to ease tantrums. Transitions and stranger-danger became a real threat. Mom and dad’s schedules had completely changed to accommodate this new guy in our lives. We affectioning coined him the boss as much of our schedule became dedicated by his needs. In fact, I call all my boys the boss still today.

Then we added a sibling. And then more siblings. He loved his brothers before they were ever born, before he really even understood what was coming. He learned to share his time. He learned to teach his brothers.

There were so many fears I had as we went through these stages: was I preparing him well enough socially, emotionally, academically? Was he grasping these messages about Jesus and how to treat others? Was he internalizing his own self-worth? Did he feel as deeply loved as he is?

Frankly, I worried about what school to send him to since we were pregnant. I vividly remember a phone conversation I had with his dad while seven months pregnant. I was home washing dishes while talking to his dad on speaker phone. We were debating public verses private schools. Dad was determined his boy deserved the best.  We were googling costs of local private schools in the area. It was the first time I remember saying, “why don’t we just see where he is when we get there and make the best decision for him at that time.” Little did I know how much that would be my mantra six years later. It’s a bit comical to think of us talking through his school choice before I had even laid eyes on him, but isn’t that how it goes? We want the best for our kids and we have big dreams for them.

The biggest thing this boy has taught me in the past five years is how to love and support your child while trusting him and his natural development. Each one of my kids have their own speeds and natural interests.  I have had to work at letting go of control and external expectations so I could lean in to supporting what this boy needs. It has taken practice, grace, and many re-dos to figure this out. I am so thankful to this boy who unconditionally loves us back as we learn to parent him best. I could not be more proud of who he is. While I look forward to our next chapter, I will always cherish his toddler years.