It’s been a big week for us in the Anderson household. Jovi, my BABEEEEEEEE, started preschool AND AWANA Cubbies Tuesday — both huge milestones in my eyes. Both “just another day” in hers.
I’ve been a working mother since Jovi was but a small speck in my belly. It’s my way of contributing to the household and my contributions are needed, if you know what I’m saying. As much as I’d love to be a stay-at-home mother, I love my job as well. I could use more of a balance, though. Part-time might be in my future. Anyway. My point is, she’s been going to some sort of caregiver since she was just 5 weeks old. For the first 2 1/2 years of her life, that caregiver was primarily my mom, Jovi’s Ya-ya. My gratefulness at her help (that word doesn’t even encompass it!) is inexplicable. It truly does take a village! When she was almost three, Jovi started going to the local Zion Lutheran church’s childcare program two days per week. Those first months were very hard on me as far as worrying about her, wondering if she was getting on well with other kids, just… wondering. It took several months until she wasn’t leaving both of us in tears every morning; her because she didn’t want me to leave her, me because it was heart-ripping to have to leave her when she was apparently miserable. But one day (after fervent prayer, may I add), a switch flipped. She said to me on the way to school (and in between choruses of Jesus Loves Me and You Are My Sunshine): “Mommy, I’m not going to cry at school today.” And she didn’t! She didn’t. In the past few weeks she’s actually walked ahead of me into the building rather than holding my hand. I’m proud. And sad. She’s growing up and gaining independence. She doesn’t need the protection and comfort of her mommy so much anymore.
I thought I would be prepared for her to start preschool this past week. But Monday night, when I was in her room picking out clothes for her to wear and getting things prepared for the next morning, I started crying. My baby, my miracle, is growing up.
Taking photos of her on her first day was surreal. Her little backpack. Her lunch. These are things she’s been using in childcare for the past 9 months, but somehow they were both transformed when I knew they were being used for preschool. (photos to come, by the way. I don’t have my camera with me at the moment!) I choked back tears on the way to school. I held her for a few seconds longer when I was getting her out of the car. I hugged her tight when I said goodbye, and then I let myself have a cry in the car as I was leaving the parking lot. It wasn’t so much leaving as it was the thought of her growing up. Isn’t she still 10 months old? How is she almost four?
I took her out for a special mommy-daughter date to her place of choice (“Burber” King, of course) and then she got to spend the afternoon with her cousins and aunt Kendra, whom she adores. Then it was time for AWANA Cubbies, and yet another milestone for me to absorb in one day. I took some photos and said my goodbyes and watched her as she joined the other kids with Pastor Mark. It’s hard getting information out of a 3 1/2-year-old, right?
“What did you do today?”
“I don’t-a know.”
“Did you play with friends?”
“What else did you do?”
“I don’t-a know.”
She knows her Cubbies verses (the first two, at least) and it amazes me that she’s able to not only memorize, but retain those memories. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised though. That child has an amazing memory on her! And I know that children in general are more….malleable? when it comes to learning things. (Note to self: Be careful of words and actions around said 3 year old…)
Even with her Little Miss Independence that’s been showing through more and more lately, there are instances of toddlerhood that come rushing back. Like when she started crying out of fear of the “sleeping dragon” during Cubbies games and ran to me for reassurance and comfort. It was sweet and dramatic and the epitome of what having a little girl is like. Drama. All the time. Not the “She said WUUUUUUTTT?” drama, but the “WHYCANTIGOOUTSIDERIGHTNOWIWANTCANDYFORDINNERPLEASEPLEASEPLEASE
PLEASEPLEASEAVENQUITLOOKINGATME” tantrum-style drama. Sometimes it’s amusing. Mostly it’s exhausting. Girls!
And, of course, dress-up! Dress-up is an almost-nightly occurrence in our home. We have three princess dresses and two ballerina skirts for the girls to traipse around in. And if they’re not in those, they’re finding other things to wear.
Like crocheted vests over two-sizes-too-small Santa dresses. And a tiara. And shoes that are 3 sizes too big. And we can’t forget the sunglasses! (and the kettle corn for some Tangled watching…)
Girls are fun.
I’m grateful that there are still bright patches of little kid-ness in Jovi even in the midst of all these big milestone changes. She still wants books read to her and her pancakes cut up. And even though she mostly uses a cup with a straw now, she still occasionally asks for a sippy. She still crawls in bed with me every morning and snuggles up to me, sometimes playing with my hair or caressing my arm. She still watches Miss Spider and Franklin and snuggles with her sister in a mound of blankets. She still needs help washing her hair and snuggles on my lap when she’s not feeling good. I’ll hold on to those moments even when they’re exhausting because I know how fast it all goes. It won’t be long until she’s watching What Not to Wear instead of Peppa Pig. Or eating spinach and mushroom omelets instead of Eggos. Well. Maybe not that last bit.