Why Is Kindergarten Such A Big Deal?

(..because it is..)

I was the first person at Scarlet’s kindergarten registration on the first day. And before I knew what I was doing, I was shuttled into the middle school, given a name tag to slap onto my chest, and was seated at a round table with the registrar. And Des.

I felt like I couldn’t catch my breath and my heart was pounding somewhere near my throat. I felt slightly sick. It’s true that I had just lugged a nearly 30-pound boy on one arm through the bitter wind, through a maze of a school and into a back classroom, but it was more than that, of course. It always is. I was feeling the growing up, fear of change, transitional things.

There’s a big difference in this world between anxious and non-anxious people, and I realize it’s not such a clean split down the middle. Some people are situationally anxious, and those situations and symptoms can vary. Some people are non-anxious as children, but fiercely anxious as adults. Or vice versa! Some people seek treatment that works. Some people seek treatment that doesn’t work. Yet other people treat themselves from the delights of this world – laughter, hugs, Yoga, puppies. Babies, too.

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Some people are anxious about many things, but it manifests itself in non-severe ways, sometimes barely detectable. Or like my mom, she could be occasionally sleepless or checking and re-checking her belongings in repetitive ways at the airport, but hey, she can fly without feeling nervous butterflies and anxious hornets. Cassidy? I just so envy his ability to just..do things. Simply.

Without the nervous song and dance. Without the nervous thoughts and the sick stomach and the headaches. Just do it. Simply.

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And Scarlet. She is up for anything. You can surprise her at a moment’s notice. You can change your plans at the last minute without breaking her heart. She just bounces into the new and the adapted. She fits into several molds. There’s not usually a song and dance, although, there is a nice Mama-clutching, jump-into-my-arms around strangers type of thing very often.

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She fears new people sometimes, but she doesn’t have a lot of fears for new places and experiences.

Me? The jury is still out. Anxious people and non-anxious people – maybe we don’t always understand each other. I wish I could just do things. Jumping in without a parachute. An arsenal. A toolbelt of tricks that include music therapy, aromatherapy, hugging Des therapy. A life without a purse stuffed with Rescue Remedy pastilles, and catching stolen lost breaths in alleyways or between the car and an unknown open doorway. A life without blasting “Safe and Sound” before dental appointments?

Actually, scratch that. I never want a life without blasting “Safe and Sound.” That sounds too…safe and sound.

Maybe it’s ok to live with the nervous tingles and anxious shivers and all of the sensations that run through my body nearly daily. Sometimes it’s friendly butterflies. Sometimes it isn’t. Whatever it is, it’s who I am. I wish I could lessen the hard symptoms, but sometimes, I can just do that. I can do all of the things I mentioned. I can write lists. I can tell you why I’m freaking out.

You could tell me why you’re freaking out.

Letting go is the hardest part.

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And this is why I’m freaking out. This is why kindergarten is such a gosh darn big deal to me:

1. It’s the first step in letting go. And the days in which I feel like she’s all mine seem numbered. Sure right now she has preschool but it’s only three days a week for four hours at a time. And it’s closed for all vacations, snow days and holidays. There are long stretches of time of just knowing we can do anything and go on any adventure we feel like going on. We can spend three days in New Jersey or an afternoon with cartoons. I love that possessive feeling. Call me selfish, but I earned this. I went through the trials and tribulations of pregnancy, labor and the baby stages. There will be challenges throughout life but I’m in it. I’m here. I am putting my life and time into shaping a being who grows like water through my hands. This is our time.

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2. It’s a big lifestyle difference. It will be five full days a week, which is quite different from the three half days I mentioned above. I remember when she was briefly in daycare, they were almost cheerful when I called her out sick. Even in preschool, they are flexible about occasional days off. Not to mention, if I feel like pulling her out to go to Florida or New Jersey or just a fun party, that’s not frowned upon at all. It’s not like she’s missing homework and exams! (not that kindergarten has those things, but skipping is probably more unwelcome) We will actually have to be..shudder..ON TIME. (I think?) If preschool is our big dress rehearsal to her education, we are missing our lines! It’s hard for me to get her to school on time and with all of her spare clothes, lunch, toothbrush, snow gear, etc. I will definitely need to be more prepared next year, for her sake and mine!

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3. It’s the start of her formal education. Yikes! I remember being in kindergarten and being told, “This stuff won’t fly in first grade!” And so on! Until college! And really, it all flies and none of it flies. You can find ways to goof off for life, if you’d like. Beyond college. In the workplace. So when is the year that matters the most? Never and always. There are always second (and third and fourth) chances, but learning patterns and confidence develop early. Kindergarten is a huge milestone. In that first year, kids develop lasting attitudes about school, learning and people. Teachers matter. Peers matter. Everything matters.

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4. Kindergarten causes me to question my own mortality. It causes me to feel like I’m aging. It’s one thing to have young babies. You can still feel like a young parent, or you’re just too sleep-deprived to even really notice anything outside of your own fog. My kids keep me young, and if they are getting older, doesn’t that mean I’m getting older too? At what point, do I stop being a young parent? At what point do I stop being a parent of young children? You may laugh and tell me that much bigger obstacles and experiences are coming. And I know that to be true, which is why I worry so much about my anxiety about kindergarten. I tend to think if I pay my dues now, they will pay off in the long run. I tend to think I make things into a big deal because I care.

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And that won’t change anytime soon. That won’t ever change.

And 5. I was sad in kindergarten. A year past my father’s sudden death and a new blended family right when I started.. Confused, sad and silent. It won’t be like that for her.

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  1. It’s amazing how you manage to wrap your words into your beautiful pictures and I can feel the beauty and anxiety and everything else all at once. Wow.
    As for big steps: my son is starting High School in September and my daughter will graduate in 2 years – talk about feeling your own mortality…
    But I remember the Kindergarten days and I’m sending you a few virtual hugs 🙂

    1. Ack, yes! Well my grandmother’s kids are 65 and 63. That’s what I tell myself! Four and one? I can dig it.
      Thank you for your beautiful comments. I felt like taking a little trip and showing Scarlet getting older and older.

  2. Oh I can only imagine how you feel. I have 5 or so years until I have to digest my son starting school, but I do think about it sometimes now. I’m not gonna lie, it gives me anxiety. I already get anxious enough about day to day things, and thinking about him in school, is a bit much for me right now.

    It sounds like Scarlet is ready to go and conquer the schoolhouse world! I don’t think she’ll have any problems adjusting and it will be awesome for her. I’m excited for you and her, and this new journey you all will be going on with starting school! 🙂

    P.S: Kindergarten was one of my absolute favorite years of school. I remember it like yesterday, and I also remember meeting my best childhood friend there. You’re right, Kindergarten is the start of ideas about school and education. If I hadn’t had a smooth transition, I’m sure it would have manifested itself somewhere else throughout my childhood. Fortunately I did, and for the most part I always enjoyed learning in school and school in general.

    1. I remember when Scarlet was two or so and many of my friends were going through this milestone. I remember thinking it felt like our turn was forever away! I suppose it’s still six months away so I’m comforted by that.
      Thank you for the very thoughtful comment, as usual. Squeeze that baby close to you! I know I’ve been doing that a lot with both kids!

  3. Hi Tamara
    First of all Congratulations to you for your Outstanding Amazing Photography. Tamara seriously I love your photography. I wish to see more amazing pictures in future 🙂

  4. Oh Tamara, I’m crying. I have to go TODAY to register Miles and Vaughn and I’m thinking all of these things and more. How can this be happening? I’m trying to hold on so tightly but time just goes, regardless of me, and I can’t stand it. I feel out of control, more then a little anxious and old! Like you said, I feel like this is the first step of letting go and I’m just not ready.

    1. Oh, what timing!
      Every time I look at her, I want to weep and it’s still six months away! That’s half a year! She will be different. I will be different.
      I feel very out of control and I’m not happy you do, but I’m happy this stuff happens..

  5. You know I was feeling all sorts of emotions and shared this all baring my soul last week and still not sure exactly what to feel, but so much of what you said here rang true for me, especially about having to be on time and days off (like snow and such) frowned upon. And I am also already starting to feel older thinking about it. Seriously, we need to be able to slow down time just a bit (at least I wish we could). Hugs and I think we need to have a meet up and therapy session about this very soon!

    1. I think so too! It’s the only way. I can look into good halfway points for us. You’re probably around three hours or less from me! The halfway points are the beautiful CT seashore. Let’s do it!

  6. Hugs to you lovely lady on such an amazing milestone! I always had trouble with the on time part myself, when mine were in public school. As for the days off, if I wanted to keep mine out, I did…they are mine after all. I will also say that despite the life long anxieties, each one that is faced, adds to our own inner strengths. Lil miss keeps telling me that she wants me to put a brick on her head to stop her from growing so fast. LOL!

    1. Thank you! You’re all making me feel so much better. The brick on head comment made me laugh. It’s almost like if you blink, they’ll grow right when you’re just sitting there! Other times, it’s slow. Like my daughter is still too little for so many rides (under 42 inches) that it does feel like it’s been slow going on that front!
      Ah, when you want something, it’s slow. When you don’t, it’s fast!

  7. I had so many of these same feelings when my oldest started Kindergarten! We have full day Kindergarten, too, and it’s a big change. Now my girls are in 3rd grade and 1st grade, and they just keep growing up! Sometimes I miss those days when they were younger, but there’s also some neat things happening as the grow bigger. They are starting to love reading the way I do, play the piano, they love dance class…they get themselves ready in the morning! And yet they’ll always be my little girls, just like Scarlet and Des will always be your little ones. 🙂

    1. I almost feel like the baby years are a bit slow and the elementary years are like a time vacuum. Maybe it’s just because I’ve been watching my friends’ older kids grow up and it feels like they’re all six feet tall already, and mine are still young peanuts.
      Time will still move at the same pace when she’s in kindergarten. Right??
      And yes, they’ll always be my babies.

  8. Aww 🙂 My son is now in the 1st grade and soon he’ll be in 2nd and so forth.. he’s turning 7, where did the time fly?? I don’t get it. I’m still a young parent but I feel old when I see his progression lol I’m an anxious mess too – It takes a lot of breathing patterns and self-talk to get me to calm myself down. When all else fails, I call my partner since he always knows what to say (most of the time) to get me to simmer down. Beautiful photos of your beautiful children Tamara 🙂 Have a great Monday love! -Iva

    1. I think my husband is so calming. I remember when Des in the NICU and my husband was laying on the couch watching a Phish show and I thought, “Well if he’s watching Phish, and if Phish is still playing, then the world isn’t ending!”
      And since then, I’ve been a bit more of a fan of the music. (phan?)
      Breathing patterns and self-talk. That should probably be the name of a chapter of my autobiography! I’d have to credit you, my dear.

      1. That’s great – you know some women in that position would attack their partners for not taking these situations lightly but the fact that you went with the most calming option shows you have better control on your anxiety and are able to reason than you think. Some women would perceive their husbands watching stuff when their newborns in the NICU as “do you now care? are you not worried? how rude?!” – so kudos for taking that as a sign of calm and peace rather than the reverse. I can see how you two work so well together. It’s a good indicator. 😀 Music is my soul – all sorts. It’s on right now at work – without it i get antsy and agitated, lol. Happy to give you ideas for your autobiography love 😀

        1. Oh, I could see how that could happen in times of stress! Definitely not here, though. I figured if he could watch Phish, everything would be ok. In truth, he was probably just as scared as I am but felt like seeing his favorite band play was better than wringing his hands and crying like I was doing!

  9. Having anxiety as a mom definitely adds a “layer” to every situation. I can tell that for me, Ava going to school is going to be a huge time for me to work very hard to not let my anxiety project onto her. I found myself calling a smaller school to see if she was eligible to go and stopped myself. She loves people…the big school is probably what she wants…I need to start making decisions for her and letting her take the reigns and not let my own recollections of what I would have wanted etc. cloud my judgement. She is her own person, and I am sometimes scared that I will somehow squelch that, if I’m not careful…I do not want my anxiety to become her anxiety.

    1. Thanks for chiming in!
      I get that – I think it’s amazing that my anxiety doesn’t become Scarlet’s anxiety..so far, anyway.
      This is certainly a big milestone in the parenting journey.

  10. You are such a strong person and I know that you and Scarlet would do great! Kindergarten is such an emotional time for us mothers. I remember when I registered my 13yr old son I bawled like a baby the very first day when he went. By day 3 he was telling me “no hugs mom, my friends are watching”. It does remind us that although we are still number 1 in our kids lives, we will be slowly replaced by friends and sometimes teachers but our special part in their heart is still there. Change is coming but it’s a beautiful change and as I said “you got this!”. Happy Monday! BTW I love that pic with Des with a bow in his hair. Too cute!

    1. That “you got this” really helps me! Sometimes I just wonder how I’ll do all the harder things. The earlier things aren’t nearly as hard for me, because it’s the letting go things that are hard! Although I suppose Des learning to walk was a big let go because he never stops running away from me! The little punk.

  11. I understand your anxiety, Tamara. I felt similarly with my oldest, and she had been in daycare since she was 3 months old. There is something totally unnerving about leaving your child in someone else’s care and not being there to protect them.
    That being said, this is where they begin to grow and spread their wings, to reveal those lessons you have worked so tirelessly to teach. Sure, there will be moments of difficulty, but in the end they grow you and Scarlet. It is not easy, but it is so rewarding to see them develop their independence. I’ll be praying for you!

    1. Thank you for your prayers! I shall need them.
      Scarlet was in daycare but it was brief and I just felt like she needed something while I was pregnant with Des. It was long days, come to think of it, and she was only two. She did fine. Preschool is even better. Maybe kindergarten will be even better, better!

  12. I was Frances’ pre-school teacher; and because her birthday is five days after the school cut-off here, I was her teacher for two years. Kindergarten was hard for me, but she loved it! The part I still struggle with is when any of my three spout off some factoid or piece of information I’ve never heard them say. The realization that they learned something that I didn’t teach them is always strange to me. They learn new things and have experiences that I am not privy to, It’s odd.

    1. So interesting! It’s true that most things they know, we have taught them. So it does surprise me when she can write letters I didn’t know she could write, or read things I didn’t know she could read.
      And it will expand so much!
      I’d kinda love to be my kids’ teacher, but I can’t see it happening this late in the game for me!

  13. I’m wondering if coping with spontaneous anxiety by obsessively organizing counts:)? I remember the day well, and I missed the preschool years of just heading down to Philly for the week. Their lives suddenly become structured, rigid. At the same time, the elementary years are full of special events, incredible learning, new friends… I imagine Scarlet’s experience will be terrific. There are many blessings ahead!

    1. Hey, whatever works I say. At least obsessive organizing is beneficial and leads to your career! My hand wringing and stressing doesn’t really lead anywhere nice. Unless it gets into my writing and photos. I guess that’s here to absorb some of it.
      There is so much to look forward to – I think I’m really getting that from you all today.

  14. We are struggling with the same emotions in our house, although it’s still up in the air whether Bean will start kindergarten in the fall. She’s beyond ready, but she just misses the cut-off date. We have to go through a special testing process for her to start early, so we’ll see how that goes…

    1. That can be so tough! In some towns, the cut-off is STRICT. In others, they allow testing. We’re June and July birthdays here so I don’t see a lot of trouble ahead, unless Des is one of those kids who isn’t ready at five. I’ll probably send him anyway! And cry a lot.
      Good luck with this process and its extra complications!

  15. My kids going into kindergarten had the same effect on me … the feeling of them growing up and away, time slipping like water through my fingers, the schedule tightening, the facing my own mortality … On Juliet’s first day of kindergarten, a newspaper photographer took a picture of me taking a picture of her (if that makes any sense.) That photo still makes my heart squeeze tight, just remembering that day, those feelings …

    1. Wow, that photo. I gasp just hearing about it!
      I’m not happy that you went through this, but I guess I admit I am happy to not be alone! It’s a tough nut to crack for me, and I’m sure I’ll be writing a lot. And there will be many photos!

  16. This was really beautiful Tamara. I am still anxious for Charlie to go even though I have been through it with Ginny. I have so much to say. First, I am glad you own your anxiousness. The world needs people who worry and I find many of us who struggle with nerves also have a ton of empathy and are fantastic at reading other people who maybe feeling down and or wound up. Also, the great thing about getting to Kindergarten on time is that the 5 days a week helps out so much with the morning routine. I am not going to lie September and October were rough. But then things just kind of get easier getting out the door. And although they frown on late arrivals the people in the office at Ryan Road have always looked at me sympathetically when I fly in the door late, and frazzled with the baby in one hand and Ginny almost in tears because we are late. And they have also given me sympathetic, warm smiles when they have had to call me to tell me Ginny has no lunch, or no boots, or here sneakers to wear in gym! They are so nice there and I think they give the new kindergarten families a little bit of a learning curve! You and Scarlet are going to love it there, and Des too! And I am going to love seeing you all everyday!

    1. Amy, you really did make me cry with your comment!
      And I will love seeing you every day, instead of just the 3-4 days that I do right now. We will know each other for a very long time! And I do believe you’ll help with my anxiety.
      Glad to hear Ryan Road will accept my hot mess status nearly as well as preschool does right now!

  17. Ummm, it’s totally a big deal!! Even though my boys are in/were in preschool 5 full days a week, the transition to elementary school was a big deal. It’s so much bigger and less comfy, cozy. But parents still got to drop off kids in the classroom. The transition to 1st grade was much harder for us because kids walk into the building themselves now without us. That first time (couple of times really) that Jasper went off by himself were so hard!! She, and you, will do great when the time comes.

    1. I remember as a kid hearing that first grade was so hard so that transition was really hard! And I was just always going through my own junk.
      I’m loving hearing from all of you kindergarten survivors!

  18. Oh. I was not expecting to get all teary at 7 am. I had to wait a few hours to comment. I feel your anxiety now more than I did when my own children were entering kindergarten. Letting go – even the thought of it makes me weepy. Kindergarten is a big deal – for you and for Scarlet. She’s going to rock it and you are going to make it through!

  19. I can’t say I relate to the anxiety (non-anxious person here) but I do get a bit nervous around any kind of change, school included. We’re putting our eldest in transitional kindergarten next year, which means a whole new school, a whole new location, and lots and lots of changes. Will we be able to bring hot lunches that they’ll warm up for him? (Probably not.) Where will picks up and drops off be? Will we like his new teachers? How about his friends?

    Routine is comfortable, but I know change is necessary and unavoidable. Whenever things feel queasy, I remind myself that the first two weeks of any big change (new job, new home, new school, etc) will most likely feel really stressful. And I remind myself that I’ve gone through changes in the past, and while they seemed difficult at that time, they eventually become a new normal for me.

    Good luck Tamara!

    1. Yay for the non-anxious! I needed to hear from one because..uh…so many artists and writers are anxious, I guess. Look at Woody Allen. Anyway, many are NOT too. So..I’m a little envious.
      And of course you do still think about and get nervous about such details.
      Change is unavoidable. That should probably also be a chapter in my autobiography because I am SO bad with it.
      And you’re right – we overcome. New normals are formed.

  20. I still remember my oldest at this stage. The testing they did before kindergarten seemed especially harrowing. What were they doing with my poor, sweet angel!? In a way it never ends.

    She’s just started a new job. Her 2nd new job in as many months, after working at the same place for over two years. I still want to help her get ready and make sure she remembers everything. I still wish I could go talk to her bosses to make sure she is okay. I mean, I know she’s okay. She’s more than okay. She’s thrilled. She’s going to be successful.

    She starts her final semester/year? of college in the fall and she’s only going to grow and be more successful. I still want to call her off work on days when it’s too snowy and take her away to Disney World.

    I guess I’m trying to tell you not to worry about letting her go because you never really will, anyway. Maybe one day a few years from now… that’s what I keep telling myself. That is what I have told myself for many years now.

  21. Oh boy, all these feelings and emotions at registration! I think you might need to be medicated to get through the first day! Kids grow up and we can’t stop it. Kindergarten is such a fun grade. I loved it when Adrian was in Kindergarten. There were so many activities and the teacher allowed me to be a room mom so I was around alot. My one piece of advice for you is to start the sleep training and morning prep about a week or so before school starts so it won’t be too crazy the first day!

    1. ha! I hope not. Maybe just herbal medication.
      That does make me feel happy that you were allowed to be around. I worry more about the years that Scarlet is way too cool to show me affection, and that may never happen, but if it does – I imagine it’s later than kindergarten. I hope so, anyway.

  22. My children are opposites. On the girl child’s first day of kindergarten she turned around and looked at me and said, out loud “why are you still here, mom?”. My son is the child who cried at preschool so hard they had to call me and have me come back and pick him up. At the first day of kindergarten, which was in the same school he had already gone to preschool at, he asked if I could just stay all day and hold his hand because he liked it better when mommy was there. He needs advance notice that plans will change, where as my daughter is happy as long as those around her are happy. Kindergarten is a big deal for sure. This past fall I had another one with my daughter…high school registration. Same exact nervousness you describe. Same maze of a school. Same anxiety. Same “where did my baby go” feeling.

    1. I can’t imagine Scarlet saying, “Why are you still here, Mom?” Maybe Des! You do hear many stories in which the transition was much harder for the parents than the kids! Scarlet thinks about it and talks about it, and luckily we still have six months to prepare.
      I’m gonna need them!
      And high school! Eek!!

  23. I’m not at this stage yet, but I believe when I am it will feel like a VERY big deal. You’re so right that kindergarten symbolizes so much about our children’s growth and our own aging. I admire you for reflecting on your own past and generating an awareness of where your emotions and anxieties are coming from. A lesson for all of us anxious-types no matter what the situation.

    1. I’m also enjoying hearing from the non-anxious types that kindergarten does fuel nerves. I guess maybe non-anxious people just deal a bit better than I do. At least I have writing! I fear you’re all going to be hearing about this a lot, going forward!

  24. First of all…those photos…those faces…LOVE! Yeah, letting go is hard. Life is a series of letting go. Doesn’t matter if we’re anxious or not, doesn’t even matter how old our kids are, it’s hard but necessary. And in the end, everything will be fine, for you and your kids. And that’s what parenting is all about. PS I read your Ask Away Friday the very first thing Friday morning. I didn’t comment. I just knew I would come back to it later. I didn’t! Dang!. Loved it and wanted to tell you your mobile coffee idea is awesome…just saying~

    1. I think it’s totally valid to comment on another blog post here. Totally.
      Life is definitely a series of letting go and I guess I wasn’t prepared for parenting’s role in all of that. I guess no one is. It still beats my old, comfortable life of having money and sleeping a lot and not worry as much, right? Right.

  25. Why must you scare me and remind me that our little one’s are becoming big girls?! We’re a year out from kindergarten, but we’ll soon have to deal with a move across country, a new school, and enrolling in kindergarten. I just hope that all of these changes don’t scar my baby. As for Scarlet, she’s got the eye of the tiger. She, and you, will be just fine.

    1. I’m sorry! And whoa – the move across the country is happening? You need to update soon! That’s a big one, but she won’t be scarred! We seem to take it worse.

  26. Beautiful, as always. I am so glad for you that you are feeling these feelings now (as hard as they are). My oldest was a tough baby/toddler and I admit to wishing those years away. What I would do to take them back… Love on that baby right now you lucky girl!!

    1. Thank you, and thank you for sending over a blogger friend today who heard about this post from you!
      I hear you about wishing time away. Since Des had such a miserable birth, I kept wanting him to be that sunny, magically sturdy four months. Sure enough, he got there! Although I don’t miss the newborn period. I’m sure I will miss every other time.

  27. True, there will be influences and changes on your girl as she becomes a kindergartener. But she is also bringing so much to the game – imagine the friendship she’ll give the kids she befriends.

    I cried on Elise’s first day. But now? when they’re in a new setting, reaching a milestone, I think to myself, “look out world – here they come!”

  28. Isn’t there a book entitled Everything You Need To Know You Learn in Kindergarten.. or something to that effect? And that’s when I also thought that Kindergarten plays a big role in children’s life. It’s amazing to see Scarlet’s baby photos and her photos now that she’s grown so much. I’m very possessive too and I can be selfish most of the time. I don’t think I’ll ever be ready to let go of my son just yet and he’s already 3.. I can’t even imagine what life is like when he’s already in school and I have to think of whatever’s happening to him while I’m not around. I can really be paranoid. But what can we do? We have to show them the world too!:)

    1. If that is a book, I think I need to buy it! Although it might make me stress more, but let’s face it, that’s going to happen anyway.
      I tend to be paranoid too. Ah, our hearts. Parenting is so hard on them. It also makes them grow, so there’s that!

  29. Hat tip to Stacey Loscalzo for pointing me in the direction of your blog today! I can so relate to this post, and you so eloquently describe much of what I went through. I was in the same exact spot just last year with my one and only, who is an anxious soul like me. My husband is decidedly not an anxious person. You can perhaps appreciate the mirror that this can sometimes be for me. I look forward to reading more of your words, and, this Kindergarten journey in particular, now that I have found your blog. And the photographs…oh my. That one with the dirt on her nose? Priceless.

    1. I’m so glad you came! Thank you, Stacey! (I thanked her on her comment too)
      So your child inherited the anxiety from you? So far neither of my kids really have! That doesn’t mean it won’t happen but I’ll never know if I was born with it, or if it was caused by my father’s sudden passing. All I know is that it’s a battle!

  30. Aw, Tamara. I want to give you a big hug right now (do you like hugs?) because even though I DON’T know how it feels to send my baby to kindergarten, I do know what it’s like to feel like you’re losing control. And it may be good, but it also feels bad and scary. So even though there’s nothing either of us can do to “Stop This Train” (the song comes up again!). So let’s eat ice cream and watch movies and just not think about it. That’s how I always solve the unfixable problems!

    1. I do like hugs!! And I like ice cream.
      Even though you don’t know how this feels, and I really don’t either because it’s six months away, you’re definitely a sensitive soul who can get how that feels – letting go. So I know you know that losing control feeling.

  31. Oh Tamara. It is so hard to not see our children through the filter of our experiences and memories. At least it is for me. When Katarina was four, I would have these sudden realizations that she was the age I was when there was abuse in my life, and I felt suddenly unsure and unable to know what to do – other than holding on to the fact that she was not experiencing that pain. And as she grew, I found myself slipping into my past, relating her to who I was at that age. I can honestly tell you that one of the most healing things in my life is to love my daughter so much, and see her have the safety and happiness that every child deserves. In some weird way, it was a little bit lime a do over for me. I hope that this year of kindergarten will be that for you. That as you see Scarlett bloomandgrow and laugh and exist full of joy, you will get a little bit of a do over of your own,as you experience someone you love so much getting that peace and happiness all children deserve.

    1. How interesting, Tracie. Four was the year for me too. My father passed away three weeks before my fourth birthday and that was a really stressful time for me last year – before Scarlet turned four. So I breathed a sigh of relief that whole summer. And I imagine being 36 (the age he passed) might be weird for me. I’m still a few years away but I can just tell I’ll find it noteworthy to get to 37.
      I get that do over thing. And watching her grow and flourish is totally the best therapy on this earth.

  32. I was sad when my kids started Kindergarten–but also thankful for the silence that it would bring. I’ve never minded the quiet since I was an only child. I grew up with it. But yes, apart of me wanted to hold the kids close and say, “Stop growing up!”

    1. I grew up with four siblings! I guess I like quiet too, although for different reasons.
      I think both kids in school will be the reason I finally go full time as a photographer or write a whole novel.

  33. Me and my sister in law always talk about our kids getting bigger. Her son was born seven months after mine and we see each other infrequently enough that our kids are actually a little different each time we meet. And we always say the same thing, wow he looks so big, and oh I know it’s sad and awesome at the same time. It’s so amazing to witness each step that our kid goes through and then it’s so sad to know that they are leaving behind something about themselves that will be lost forever. Jack is two and we are already looking back thinking, remember when he used to do that, aw that was so cute, when did he stop doing that?

    1. I always wanted to have kids when my sister did. Now I’m most likely done and she’s not even married. She’ll probably have kids with my other sister and they’re close geographically. I’m the odd one out! Anyway, that must be so bittersweet.
      I was going to write a whole post about what you said – about how parts of them are lost forever. I was feeling that way and then I saw a Doctor Who episode in which he talked about people changing throughout life, and how ok it is. And I realize, you do gain a lot, and you do lose a lot.

  34. Yes. To all of it. I would like to say it gets easier but for me, each school year is bitter sweet and the anxiety of adjusting to new ways of doing things throws me into over organization mode. But with their growth comes my growth. I am learning to be more in the moment because the moments are so fleeting. Hmpf. Lean in. That’s all we can do really. Lean in to life because we won’t be happy the other way. Let’s be fearless together, shall we?

    1. Yes, let’s! I don’t know why I keep thinking you live near me and I keep being sad to learn it’s not the case!
      I can really understand that about organization. One of my blogger friends (who does live near me) is a professional organizer and she was somewhat half joking that the obsession stems from stress and all I could think was that at least she’s doing something productive and even money-making with her stress!
      I just wring my hands a lot.

  35. Just reading this list is getting me anxious. It’s funny though, I’m not particularly an anxious person but when it is a matter involving Dylan, the nerves are in full swing and they leave me feeling physically sick. It’s too much at once, it’s overwhelming, and not having control over it makes me crazy and more anxious. Kindergarten is going to be a huge challenge for me because like you, I don’t want to let go. But I don’t think I would let go if I weren’t forced to, so it has to happen. I’m not laughing at you AT ALL; there may be bigger things ahead and more challenging situations to deal with but this first step in formal education is where you are right now and that’s just what it is. I know the kids will be fine…but what about us? I guess in due time we too will find our way. <3 <3

    1. I think my nerves got both better and worse with kids, if that makes sense. My nerves with them got worse. My nerves for anything else starting to pale in comparison and mostly fade away.
      Funny how that works.
      I hope we will be fine too! Letting our kids grow and flourish. And thankfully I still have three years with Des!

  36. If you lived near I would have a big fun brunch for you the day Scarlet starts Kindergarten. I didn’t do it when Jordan went but when Hunter started I had friends over and we did something fun – it was a great way to spend the morning!! Scarlet will love kindergarten and once you get into it, you will, too!!
    I’m fixing to let my oldest go to La on his own (with the HS band but still….) in just a few days – I’m right on the verge of a complete melt-down!!!!

    1. Oh, why don’t we live closer to each other?? However, you did give me a great idea and I may do that in September – with full credit to you, of course. What a great idea.
      Yeesh about LA! I’m here for you!

  37. I totally get the anxiety of Kindergarten, Tamara, and you wrote a spectacular post here! I know when I was with my fiance and her two wonderful boys a few lifetimes ago I was thrilled for them to be heading off to Kindergarten. I LOVED being with them but it was time for them to experience new things and they were actually excited to go. Now Mom on the other hand, she had a horrible time with it. And I totally supported her feelings of separation. Of course we all found our groove quickly with the new routine. That picture of your husband with you daughter tucked inside his t-shirt put a huge smile on my face!In general, yes I deal with anxiety…ongoing journey there. And dentists? They need to bring the nitrous oxide OUT to the Jeep for me to inhale before even a cleaning ha, ha! 🙂

    1. ha! You’re hilarious. I’m so anxious that even the nitrous doesn’t work. It makes me worse! I do fine with standard stuff. I had to be put to sleep for two oral surgeries when I was younger, and the nitrous made me SO weird. Not happy. Just weird.
      What a beautiful story about you supporting your family through the tough separation stuff.
      Thanks for visiting!

      1. I was 14 and got my wisdom teeth taken out. Came out of it with some immense Sodium Pentothol “courage” left over and said some very sordid remarks to the cute dentist office girls. I remembered very little of it. Three days later my dad drove me back down to the office to apologize to all of them LOL! 🙂

  38. Amazing pictures as always and YES to everything you listed. When my oldest started school, my dad said “It’s kind of sad to think that from now until they are retirement age, they will either be in school or working (hopefully).” Talk about mortality and aging!!! Ouch! It is hard, but you will both be just fine. Hugs to you mama!

    1. Oh dear! What a sad thing to think about. But hey, maybe not. Life is full of surprises for everyone. Here’s hoping they all win the lottery and/or work the jobs of their dreams.

  39. You already know that I get it! I mimic a lot of the feelings but now I am thinking about my own mortality as well. I think I will always be the young parent in my head….maybe until they get in middle school. The anxiety is both terrifying and exciting. I plan to have a really great summer with them before he jumps into what will be a rigorous kindergarten schedule. *sigh*

  40. The first couple weeks after Eve was born, I would look at her and cry because I knew she would not stay that young, that innocent, that protected from the world forever. I can’t imagine what it will be like for me when she starts school! (Granted, that’s a long ways off, but she could potentially start preschool full-time at less than 3 years of age, gah!) And I hear you on being anxious. I used to get nervous going to the pool for the first time every summer, not because of any fear of the water, just in my personality I guess. Thankfully I’m less anxious than I used to be but it’s still there.

    1. I SO remember those postpartum feelings. Around two months with Scarlet, I got them BAD.
      They have since long healed but I remember is so clearly.

  41. I get it…it’s a big change. You do start to feel like they need you less, that perhaps you’re not quite so young anymore. I’m really feeling it now. Less than a year and a half, my oldest will be off to college. College. It’s mind boggling for me, because I remember kindergarten. It’ll be a special year…enjoy it!

    1. College. That is mind-boggling. I imagine there are so many perks as well as downfalls to every age and how it affects parenting. Having three is nice, though! Stretches out the time. Maybe I need to try that.

  42. I can say that Kindergarten doesn’t bother me too much. Well, it’s more that the numbered grades are what really have me freaked out. It’s really amazing how quickly they grow up. I still feel like T’s maternity leave just ended!

    1. Well that makes me feel better! Maybe I should just postpone my freakout for first grade. ha. I’m sure I’ll have mild meltdowns with every changing year. Scarlet will be ready, though.

  43. Wow!! Reading the comments let’s you know you are not alone. Being aware of the changing times will make your time together so special. Maybe that’s why they give us months to prepare?

    BTW, your words weaving their way among those incredible photos create so much emotion and feeling! Thanks for sharing!!!!

    1. This sounds so silly but I’m equating it with pregnancy. You get nine months to get used to that idea! We still have six months before kindergarten, but they started us thinking about it..about three months ago. So yes, it’s like giving birth all over again!
      Thank you for that last bit – I love to tell stories with photos, but I also love to tell stories with words.

  44. I am like the weirdest parent ever. I was so excited for mine to all start school!
    I mean…yes, I had what I consider the completely normal, totally acceptable worries and concerns of a Mom: but I was so excited for them to start this adventure! Oh – the things you will learn. The friends you will meet. Hopscotch! Two words to avoid though kiddos: Dodge Ball. LOL
    I guess it all depends on your own experiences. I loved school. I still love to learn. So I guess I just assumed at the time that would all pass on to them (um, no – not so much. not all of them.)
    Now high school — that starts some heart palpitations. because I know they are hard years. The teens are hard!! I had great high school years — and I so want them to be able to look back fondly on that time too.

    1. That’s not weird – it’s awesome! I’m sure in many ways I am excited but my reservations above are totally just the anxious way I think sometimes. Uncool. I’m sure I’ll enjoy it as it happens. And she is so much more fun now than she was even a year ago when she was all yell-y and scream-y at me. A lot!
      And I loved high school and hated college. And most people are the reverse! I was a lot in high school like I am in the blogging world, if you can believe that. Sort of everywhere and branching out and friendly to everyone… but of course sometimes getting myself in trouble too.

  45. I’m actually excited about my oldest being in kindergarten now! Technically, he’s still in ‘preschool’ but in the K1 class, and he will actually only be in first grade in 2017 (he’s a year end baby). And I packed the little one to nursery at 17 months old, 5 days a week, 4 hours a day. I just knew he was ready. He needed the constant stimulation and peer company that he just wasn’t getting with me at home. And they still spend a large portion of their day with me at home after school.

    But I understand the anxiety and fear. With #1, I was so worried about him when he started preschool, 3 days a week. I thought he would positively hate the experience because I wasn’t there. But I was dead wrong. It was the best thing for him. Though I do know I’ll go through all the feelings again when he actually starts first grade, because that seems so much more real and grown up. Because they’re our first babies.

    1. Yes, our first babies!
      And I don’t know if it’s harder or easier the second time around, especially if our second babies are our last babies.
      And I bet this is all why people have thirds..and fourths..

  46. I love all of your pictures. It is really hard letting go. I remember walking my daughter to her first day of pre k, which is all day and 5 days a week down here….it was really hard. Time does fly by. She is now 13 and in middle school playing on the varsity golf team. Yes, time flies. I wish I could slow it down just a bit…but I am also happy to see the smart girl she is growing into. I feel old…I turn 39 soon and I look in the mirror and don’t see how that has happened. How did I get this old so fast? I don’t feel 39….I feel more like 27. And I wish I was…but then I didn’t like life as much as I do now. It’s a give and take…and sometimes it’s all out of your control. Control. Something I like to trick myself into thinking I have….yet reality proves that I don’t have control over much.

    1. You feel 27 because you look 27! And I get that about still feeling young. At what point does it switch over? Can everyone else see it but me?
      Control is my worst enemy – or the lack of it! All of my fears and phobias of my life have had to do with control.

  47. Sweetie, her kindergarten experience is going to be amazing! She is blossoming every day because of the wonderful nurturing and love she is given by two incredible parents. I was worried when three of mine started school, was worried when two graduated from high school, and have new worries with one going into high school (and starting all over again with two babies). It’s normal! It’s parenting. You’ll have lots of virtual hugs to help see you through. Love you to pieces! 🙂

  48. maybe I’m crazy but I couldn’t wait til my kids went to school – great to have a break from them – lol

    I’m sure it will be fine – love your pictures as usual 🙂

  49. I remember having the same feelings when my oldest started Kindergarten. Letting go is hard. I think I cried on her first day of school. It is okay to be anxious and nervous. But once school starts and you get into a new routine with Scarlet everything will fall into place and you will be less anxious. Letting go of my kids when they started Kindergarten got easier for me with each one. My youngest starts Kindergarten in two years and I am already counting down the days. Everything will be fine!

  50. Kindergarten is a big deal. It was much harder on me than G though. And we fell into a new routine after a bit of a transition. You know what gives me more anxiety? Signing up Biz for kindergarten this year. I might cry at that one. He’s my baby! But we all get through this as moms and then we have new anxieties to deal with. They’re worth it though, aren’t they? 🙂

    1. haha. Yup. They’re worth it.
      Sometimes Des looks so big to me. He’s my baby! And this is why people have third or fourth children. Or get a pet. I want a pet.

  51. Oh my. First it’s Kindergarden, then it’s dating. Then it’s the SATs… Then it’s marriage. Oh no, wait, I hope I am not scaring you. These are going to be some of the most amazing years of your life. Watching your little girl mature into a lady! 🙂

  52. What beautiful curls and sparkling eyes! My son will be in kindergarten fall of 2015, which is freakin’ next year, I can hardly believe it. I know when the time comes, I’ll have same thoughts as you: he’s gonna be asserting his independence even more — his own friends, his own schedule // I never got my son to daycare on time, what am I gonna do about kindergarten start time? // Oh my gosh, have I prepared him enough in his skills? // What if kids are mean?? SNIFF SNIFF. You hang in there, momma. I know despite our fears and anxieties, our kids will do great.

    1. I know! What if kids are mean?? And we all know that they are and we have all gone through it and know our kids will – whether causing it, being hurt by it, or both! Ack!
      I do think they will do great, though.

  53. love the pictures, but the post reminds me so much of everything I was feeling 6 months ago. Kindergarten.. next thing you know it’s college. I want to freeze time sometimes.

  54. Oh man… kindergarten. My little guy (little! little I say!) is turned 4 later this month and I’m sure it’s going to hit me like a ton of bricks any day now. I have been thinking a lot lately about how verbal he is, how he can tell us what he wants, why he’s sad, and millions of other things (mostly having to do with Spiderman) and how different this was from a year and a half ago when he was in speech therapy. It’s crazy how things change.

    1. I was in speech therapy when I was four going on five. I couldn’t say “purple”! Anyway that wasn’t really related. Scarlet is now 4.5 and I see the changes every day.

  55. Aw! So sweet that Emma, Janine’s first born and Scarlet are both starting Kindergarten next year! Bitter sweet! I totally get what you are saying about getting older. Is it weird that I think about that right now because JR will be 2? I can’t believe I’ve been a parent for 2 years. I’m not too sure where the time went, but coming up on 5 years and Kindergarten must be so overwhelming for you! I love all of her pictures that you show up until she is the age she is now. She’s so you! 🙂 I know not in personality completely, but I see you in her looks wise. Excited to see all the changes and growth you all will do with your new Kindergartener. 🙂

    1. It’s so weird because I can’t believe Des is a toddler now. I just want to say “my baby” forever. I really think I will until he’s two!

  56. The whole “growing up” thing is so hard for me to take. And you pretty much nailed why. Even though mine are homeschooled and I don’t have to have them away from me every day the milestones that are the ones that tell you your kids are growing faster then you want them too I struggle with. I find though that I look at who they are becoming, and all the expectation and promise that they hold and I can watch them grow and be happy for all that their lives have in store. (after I’ve sniffled in the bathroom for a little while!)

    BTW- I’m super excited because you are in my SITS “spring fling” group 🙂

  57. I’m all emotional this week about all kinds of stuff with my kids so this made me cry. Gavin lost his second top tooth and today Tim took the training wheels off of his bike and off he went! It’s like in ONE week he just GREW UP right before my very eyes. Next week? He’ll probably be asking for the car keys. Shit. 😉

    Also, my oldest is just OLD. He knows stuff and says stuff and just, BAM! out of the blue with all of his smartness and almost-ten-ness! ACK!

    And K. We had lunch together, just the two of us today and I promised myself I would not take out my phone so I could just enjoy our time and meal together and I did and it was so nice (until the end when I took a pic of her eating her ice cream and posted it to Instagram).

    Anyway… sorry to put a blog post on your blog post but I am just trying to say that I can relate. With all of my kids and man, it’s the growing up that is amazing and hard and beautiful ALL at the same time.


    1. I had two hours of non phone time with Scarlet yesterday and I did kinda feel tempted to take a photo of us snuggling. It’s such a hard habit to break!
      I love your blog post on my blog post! I’ve had such good comments at times that I was tempted to copy and paste them onto my own blog. I was like, “Darn, I used up all of my material!”

  58. Oh Tamara, she is achingly beautiful. Anxiety aside, I think every parent goes through these feelings when their little ones hit big milestones. Kindergarten is a huge one – you’re right, it is a big deal. And it’s like you’re reading my mind (and probably every mama’s mind) when you wrote about not wanting to let go of being such a big part of their lives, AND being forced to face your own mentality. Yup, and yup. Big hugs.

    1. Thank you!
      It’s..huge to me. Mind boggling. I seriously nearly had an anxiety attack at registration. And I worry I’ll be even worse when it actually happens in six months. Probably not, though. I’m getting it all out of the way now!

  59. {Melinda} Tamara, my oldest is 17. Next year she will be a senior. And it seems like kindergarten was five minutes ago. I’ve experienced anxiety more times than I can count as we’ve hit new milestones and transitions. It is definitely bittersweet. Such an adventure (sometimes good, sometimes bad), but each step of letting go is hard. Whether they’re five or 15. Sigh.

  60. Like you, I mourned the freedom of our days right around kindergarten registration. But we didn’t spend enough days at the zoo! I only took them to the art museum once on a whim! We need more impromptu trips to the beach!

    The transitions are hard. The time slips away. You learn to more quickly appreciate the moments that are precious. You will be awesome, and so will she! 🙂

  61. wow, scarlet is such a big girl now! kindergarten is a huge deal. my husband and i will go to these parties for our friends who have kids that are in high school or elementary school. and i kinda freak out because our kid isn’t even born yet and we are both very old already! my husband jokes that he will be watching our kid on the playground with his motorized wheelchair!

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