Parental milestones

[Thank you, Rookie Moms, for inspiring this post.]

So my daughter graduates from preschool today. Obviously this is a huge milestone for her, but I have come to realize that it’s also a major turning point for me. This Fall marks the beginning of “the school years” for our family — both kids will be in public elementary school (my son starts 3rd grade and my daughter will start kindergarten). I am thrilled. I am proud. And I am just a little bit devastated.

I’ve never been one of those parents who wants the kids to “stay this age a little longer.” I’ve always rejoiced in their growth and independence. But the whole “it goes by so fast” observation wistfully passed along by grandmas at the grocery store has finally sunk in.

Nothing new here. I’m not the first parent to get nostalgic at her kid’s preschool graduation. It’s just good to take a moment to look over my trajectory as a parent and recognize how much has changed. I’ll spare you the million things I could list, and simply say that the biggest thing that has changed, for me, is the acceptance of the paradox. The realization that my kids do not, will not, can not be a certain way because I’m the parent and I will it so. That I can’t take credit for their golden qualities, nor the blame for their deficiencies. That all I can do is watch and love and guide and hope.

As an aside: I put a rather desperate note about my daughter’s graduation on Twitter this morning and got back such lovely and comforting responses (barbarag, I’m lookin’ at you.). Thank you.


  1. says

    What a great post – as a parent you do have fundamental responsibles to teach the difference between right and wrong and respect for themselves and others, but you can’t make them something that they are not.

  2. says

    “I am a big kid. I can tie my shoes, I can read, I can take a shower by myself, I can swim, I can ride a two wheeler, I lost my tooth. I’m not little anymore, Mama.”

    Later in the weekend, “Don’t bother me now Mama; I’m playing with my friends!”

    Oh, help me. I am not prepared.

  3. Elena Murphy says

    Thank you for your post. You’ve given me a mantra that I think will take me through the Twos. :-) “Watch, love, guide, hope.” Thank you.

  4. Parent Hacks Editor says

    Jill: Oh, yeah. I know. I’ve told friends that the job of parenting a toddler is fundamentally different than parenting an infant. The same is true at each stage. I have found that in some ways I start over each time.

  5. ehg says

    This could not have come at a more perfect time… my teething 8 month old had a melt down every hour today, this definitely made me realize to cherish ALL moments… even the melt downs!

  6. Ava Tari says

    Someone once said to me (about something else), “It’s like being a parent; the days are long but the years fly by.”

  7. Anon says

    I am due with my second baby next week, and this post really hit home with me. My first is almost 3 and I realized today that this is the last week we’ll have together, just him and me -where he can dictate how we spend our days. Everything is going to change next week, and although we’re very excited, one chapter is definitely coming to a close!!

  8. says

    Asha, I am glad that you feel the paradox of being a parent too. Like you, I’ve never been one to wish my kids would stay a certain age and always shrug my shoulders when my friends say that. But the time really does fly and I find myself torn between wanting to keep them safe and sheltered, and knowing that I need to get out of their way so they can grow. And my oldest is only three! I know it’s just going to get harder to let go.

    I hope the graduation was fun!

  9. says

    Thank you – what a great post! You are definitely not alone! My daughter will be at school next year and my son already is. We desperately want more kids and are doing ivf…i am soooo not ready for my nest to be empty!! You hit the nail on the head when you talked about the paradox for you…i am finding this too. I just find it hard to not blame mself when hings go wrong…and with letting them go i look back with so much joy but regrets too…and now it’s gone!! do you feel like this? does anyone else? Being a perfectionist is hard! But this struggle is a sign of our strong love :-)