September 5-on-5: Growing up isn't the hard part {Lancaster County Photographer}

Welcome to September my friends. This month's 5-on-5 circle is a good one. When you are done reading here be sure to check out  Amy Thelen | Portland, OR Family Photographerand don't forget to leave them a little note so they know you were there! 

Watching them grow up isn't the hard part.

"They" tell you it is. "They" say 'Enjoy it now, they grow up fast' or 'It's hard watching them grow so independent.' I'm telling you "they" are all wrong. At least for me. 

I have thoroughly enjoyed watching my little 5lb 12oz, 36 week-er grow into this amazing, hilarious, empathetic and artistic 5 year old boy that craves independence but still wants guidance. 

This year was the "big" year.

Losing teeth, riding without training wheels, taking showers on his own, finding out that his friends were much more fun than mom and dad- all building up to the big day...

...Kindergarten. 

I can't believe time has gone by that fast. I vividly remember the long nights I sat and cried with him, begging him to sleep just a little longer, convincing myself that I was always failing and he was going to end up hating me. Mom guilt and Post Partum Depression are so f**king hard. 

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I wasn't sad watching him get onto the bus in the morning like "they" said I would/should be.

In fact, I was over the moon, elated. I had watched my first baby take his very first steps, and now I was watching him take a different kind of first step- his first steps to the next 12 years of his life.

Watching him get onto the bus, I saw everything I thought I did wrong over the last 5 years, melt away. They didn't matter anymore. My husband and I did things right. Right for our child. Right for us. 

I feel like his first day of kindergarten, was a turning point for me more than it was for him. I learned that my issues, stress and uncertainty of him going to school weren't because he was growing up. "They" had me convinced I was just sad to see him grow up. "They" assumed I was afraid he would never need me again.

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I realized that for the first time in his life, he was going into an environment where I actually wouldn't have daily access to talk to his caretaker about how his day went. I was losing a form of control over what felt was just an extension of my life. 

For the first 3 years of his life, I worked. I was used to him being at a sitter, or his grandparents. During those times, I could pick him up and talk to the adults about his day. I could drop him off and warn them that we had a rough morning. 

At 3, I became a stay-at-home mom. I was so excited to get him into pre-school. {I would LOVE to homeschool, but my oldest and I just butt heads like no other; it wouldn't end well for either of us.} I would drop him off, and pick him up, both times again, able to talk to his AMAZING teachers and see how he was doing.

This ended up being so important when we discovered his ADHD diagnosis. The work his teachers did and the work that my husband and I did, was easily mended together to make it as seamless as possible for him. It was important to all of us to try to lay a strong foundation for him now, to attempt to provide him with coping mechanisms for when he was losing his self-awareness and self-control.

Now kindergarten.

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This magical year for him. He learns to read, write and all the social skills a kid needs to get through society somewhat successfully. I've enjoyed watching him grow these first two weeks. It's insanity how in two weeks, he's so different, but yet, the same. I see all the qualities my husband and I have tried to drill into him- courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, indomitable spirit {for anyone involved in taekwondo, yes... the same tenets.}-just pouring out of him in a way they weren't before. 

In order to continuing seeing this growth, I have to give something up. Something I never had to give up with him before.

Control.

I can't have a face-to-face with his teacher each morning. In fact, the first adult in charge of his well-being is Mr. Mike the bus driver, someone I still haven't so much as waved to. Sure, I can email his teacher and explain that I argued with my child for 20 minutes about why his favorite twilight sparkle socks that he wore for 3 days in a row before today weren't washed yet so he might be "in a mood" today, but honestly, she has at LEAST 30 other kids to focus on. I don't want to be that kind of parent. 

I don't even expect a play-by-play about his day from his teacher's either. I am so thankful that his teacher is OUTSTANDING with keeping us up to date via pictures and summaries about how the kids spent their day. I mean, at least I don't have to go cold turkey on the illusion of control right?!

This whole "control" thing is hard. Which really throws my whole laid-back-make-my-kids-as-independent-as-possible parenting mind for a loop. I mean, my boys have been in charge of their own breakfast (minus anything cooked on the stove and all other appliances are supervised) since they were almost 4, and recently have been making their own lunches. So why is it so hard to let go of knowing about his day? 

I came to this conclusion after re-reading an old blog post I wrote. Fear.

I am afraid his wrong choices throughout the day {especially the ones I never learn of}, will reflect on me- negatively- and I won't be able to "defend myself".

Even though I know there is nothing I need to defend. As I wrote before- 'He is his own person.  His decisions are separated from me. '

I feel like watching my kids grow up and become independent is the best feeling in the world. I get teary eyed and sentimental, sure, but in my heart I know they will always need me in some way or another. That is a comfort that allows me to feel the joy I get from seeing them want me less and less. {note here: WANT not NEED. They will always need me, they may not always want me.} I feel like the first day of kindergarten is so amazingly joyful. 

Parent's of kids heading into the school-aged world, "they" are wrong. Allow yourself to enjoy the moments of independence and growth. You don't have to feel sad that they are growing up. You can let go of the parent guilt about not feeling sad.  You can feel overwhelmed at the idea of having less control. 

"They" have no clue what "they" are talking about.

We worked hard to get our kids to this moment. We deserve to feel how we want about it. I'm throwing away the guilt of feeling like I am not a "good enough" parent because I didn't cry over his first day. 

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So tell me, how did you feel watching your kid start school? Preschool to college, doesn't matter. I want to know how you felt. And more importantly, why? Leave me a comment and let's start a discussion below.