Wait, I’m sorry, but wasn’t it just yesterday that I was stuffing my newborn daughter into her pink going-home bodysuit, folding up the arm- and leg-sleeves because even the newborn size was too big for her? Wasn’t it just yesterday that I watched reruns of Gilmore Girls while she slept on my shoulder, every so often toggling around her huge newborn head? Wasn’t it just yesterday that I spooned rice cereal off of her chin? That I held her ankles gently together while changing her diapers? That she gave me huge open-mouthed kisses on the side of my face? No?
Well, OK then, but wasn’t it just yesterday that I took her to her first day of daycare here in New Orleans at the fabulous bright-yellow Kiddee Korner in Mid-City? That I watched her, in pink-checked overalls, toddle away from me to grab a soggy animal cracker out of another child’s hand? No?
The passage of time is just another thing that is forever altered by becoming a parent. Four-and-a-half years of my life is a blip. Four-and-a-half years of Ruby’s life … well, that’s a lifetime, and yet it seems like it was just yesterday that I was bringing her home. But no.
Yesterday – really, actually yesterday – she started pre-K at Morris Jeff, and I am an absolute disaster. I am honestly wiping my eyes on the sleeve of my shirt as I’m typing this.
Ruby has been at Kiddee Korner since early February 2008 when she was 13 months old and could barely walk a few steps before falling down on her diapered bottom. I love the staff there and think of them as family. Ditto to the other kids: Parker, Avery, Mia, Ava, Grace, Ryleigh, Nico, Auden, Malaysia, Russell. Kiddee Korner has been a warm, loving environment for her, one where I never felt bad dropping her off and was always delighted to pick her up. Through tears, I emptied out her cubbie on Wednesday afternoon while her teachers admonished me: “You cannot cry or else we’ll start crying!”
And Thursday morning, dressed in her uniform, clutching her Hello Kitty lunchbox, we walked into Big Kid School. Her teacher greeted her warmly as the principal led morning meeting. I knew I had to keep up a brave front for Ruby, so I sang along with “What a Wonderful World” (really, Morris Jeff?! Are you trying to make the parents cry?!) and heartily recited the Pledge of Allegiance. And then I hugged and kissed her while she dissolved into tears. I waved frantically with false cheer as she walked off, still crying, with her class. And then, once she was fully out of sight down the hallway, I lost it. I cried all the way to work. And today brought more of the same.
I know it will get easier. But to paraphrase one of my favorite authors, Judy Blume, then again, maybe it won’t.
See, my boss has twin daughters starting college this fall, and when I showed him the pictures from Ruby’s first day, he got a bit misty-eyed himself. He remembers when his girls were going off to Big Kid School themselves. He says it seems like it was just yesterday.