I’m sitting under a tree across the street from the school where my daughter will be a student in the fall. Angie starts kindergarten in just a few months, and I’m not sure I’m ready.
I’ve known for almost five years that this moment was coming, but it has been a day in the far-off distance until now. I’ve known it was coming in the same sense that I know tomorrow is coming, although that never truly seems real either — until I wake up in the morning to a dandelion sun blooming on the horizon.
The kindergarteners are lined up on the sidewalk in front of the school’s massive front doors. They sure look little. From my spot here in the shade, I can see that they are ready for the day to begin. Every one of them is smiling.
Soon my daughter will be among them. She’ll wake up excited on that first day of school and grab her backpack. I’ll walk her to those big front doors, where she will hug me goodbye and hug her friends hello. Then I’ll turn around and walk back to our empty apartment.
I know I’m not ready.
When I was pregnant with Angie, I never pictured us as mother and daughter. I knew she would be born, of course, and that she would be my baby, but I never imagined what our lives would be like as we got older.
With my belly round and bloated, I sat spread-eagle on the carpet in her bedroom, folding tiny T-shirts and writing thank-you cards for shower gifts. My mind never wandered too far beyond that moment.
After she was born, I was in shock, as most new mothers are. I wished she would hurry up and grow, stop being such a fussy baby. Even though I wished it, it seemed impossible that she would ever get older. It was as improbable as a far-off tomorrow.
Now here we are. Angie is on the verge of turning 5-years-old and she is getting ready to attend kindergarten. She’s been practicing her alphabet and numbers and sounding out new words. Just last week, we toured the school, checked out the classroom and met the teacher. She even took home a pencil with a tiger, the school mascot, on it.
How did we get here? It seems like yesterday that I held her tiny pink body in the maternity ward. She grabbed my finger and looked up at me, as though she expected me to tell her what was going to happen next.
I blinked my eyes and she was learning to walk. I blinked again and she was learning to read. How many more blinks will there be before she’s all grown up, with a career and family of her own?
I’m certainly not ready for that.
Over the years, it has felt like I had an unlimited amount of time to spend with Angie, an infinity of sunrises. Now, I’m beginning to see that it won’t last forever. Sooner than I would like, she will be a teenager. I will blink and she’ll be graduating from high school. I’ll blink again and she’ll be off to college. One day she might even be sitting on the floor of her unborn child’s nursery, folding baby T-shirts and writing thank-you cards.
It has been a wonderful four years of having Angie home. There have been good times and there have been times when she drove me crazy. There have been moments I wished would never end and moments I would rather forget. So much will change when she starts school. Already, I feel the wind starting to blow.
I suppose the time has come to start thinking about all of that — or, at the very least, start preparing myself for her first day of kindergarten.
Or I could just sit right here, under this tree, for a few moments longe