My daughter “graduated” from pre-k last week. I patted myself on the back for not crying at the ceremony; that night, we watched the picture DVD that the school gave us, and the back-to-back baby picture (from the day we brought her home from the NICU/graduation picture) got me.
I’ve been struggling with anxiety about next fall. It’s not really about “oh, my baby’s getting older *sob*.” It’s just that, apart from moving, this is the biggest life change she’s experienced since my ex left. I’ve tried to make things as stable as possible to balance those out, but she’s going to have a huge schedule and environment change in the fall.
The same woman has been watching her exclusively from the time she was six months old–first as full days, and then she walked her to afternoon pre-k every day this year. She’s like her second mom. She lives in the town where I work (about 25 minutes away), and my daughter is starting kindergarten at a public school next year. She’ll be going to a daycare center from 7 am until the bus comes to take her to the school, and then she’ll be bussed back there when school is over (2:30).
I’ve been picturing her throwing a fit, refusing to get dressed (I take her to the sitter in her pajamas, because she’s not really even awake at 7 am when we leave)…and me getting in trouble because I’m late to work. I’ll have a homeroom next year, so my lateness will be more high-profile.
But I saw something on the last day of school that made me feel that not only will all of this be okay, but that it’ll be okay because I’m doing a good job as a parent.
Among other treasures, she brought home pictures she drew of her family on the first and last days of school.
Here’s the one she drew on the first day:
Her, our cat, me, daddy–I keep forgetting to ask her who the floating green head is.
This is the picture she drew of her family on the last day of school:
Clockwise from bottom: her grandfather, her grandmother, her soon-to-be stepbrother, her favorite blanket (who she says is a girl), her, daddy, our cat, daddy’s fiancee
She’s at the center, surrounded by her extended family.
I think I caught my breath when I saw this, because this is the fantasy that has guided me in figuring out how to divorce: make decisions based on what is best for the kids. There wouldn’t be anything wrong with her just putting me and daddy in the picture at the end of the year, but it’s absolutely wonderful that, when she’s asked about who is her family, she thinks of a crowd. Even better, we’re all mixed up. It’s not daddy’s family on one side and me and the cat on the other. She knows she has two houses, but her two families don’t feel separate.
This is why we do this. This is why a collaborative divorce is possible for us.