September is definitely a month of transitions – transitioning from summer to fall, from vacation to school, from lazy days to routines. No matter how old your kids are, and whether you’ve done this school thing for years, each year brings a new challenge. My challenge this year, the year that my son starts senior kindergarten full days, isn’t with my son. It’s my daughter. The one left behind.
I chose to take a leave from my job to stay home with my kids. I know this isn’t everyone’s situation, but it’s mine. I’ve been home for the past 3.5 years and my daughter has never been away from me. She’s also used to having her brother around. Two years ago he went to preschool for two mornings a week, which was hard on all of us. He didn’t like being away and didn’t want to go, at least at first. He eventually hit his stride and ended up loving preschool. Two hours two mornings a week isn’t much to entertain a toddler, but last year was a different story when he went to junior kindergarten every afternoon.
Our mornings were the same – out to the library, the park, groceries, or a museum – but our afternoons were a struggle. We would drop him off at the bus right after lunch. By the time we walked home, my daughter was already asking to go back to pick him up. Those 3 hours felt so long. She got used to it – we all did – but she still missed her brother.
This year, we’re not even a full week into the school year, and already I’m finding it hard. Hard to entertain my daughter all day. I’m so used to there being two kids, kids who played together, who only needed refereeing and meals made regularly to survive. Now I’m my daughter’s main playmate. It’s intense.
I’ve signed her up for preschool, the same one my son went to. Two mornings a week for two hours I’m alone and it’s blissful. Those 4 hours are a beautiful thing. The rest of the time, she’s asking when we can go pick up her brother. She’s asking me to read her a book. She’s asking me to play Lego. I never expected that parenting one child would be harder than two, but that’s exactly what I’m saying.
I know we will hit our stride soon enough and I will learn to love our time together. The one-on-one time that my second-born has never had. But right now, during the transition, it’s hard. Our struggles may not be the same as yours, but it’s a transition time for everyone and I wish you luck. May we all find our new normal before losing our minds.