I walked through the glass doors and tried desperately to figure out where to go. The hallway was crowded with people eager to catch up with old friends after the long summer break. There were the popular girls who knew everyone, and they flitted about as though they owned the place. Then there were the kind teachers who smiled at me encouragingly, sensing my obvious fear.
I worried I would not fit in. I even considered leaving. But something stopped me. After all, what kind of mother ditches her son's first day of preschool?
I looked down at my oldest child, Daniel. He was 3 and clinging tightly to my sweaty palm.
I could not fail him.
We eventually located his classroom and the staff invited us to sit amongst a circle of kids and moms. I was eight months pregnant at the time and definitely not the most graceful of gazelles. I plopped down with a loud "oomph" as Daniel climbed into what was once my lap. Unfortunately, he sat directly on his unborn brother's head.
Poor Joey has gotten rather accustomed to that over the years.
As the weeks passed, it all became routine. I learned the tricks of the parking lot, studied the faces of the teachers, and gained access to that most coveted group of preschool moms:
Ones with diaper coupons and free formula samples.
The weeks turned into years, and before I knew what was happening, I was picking up my youngest child on his last day of preschool. How could I ever say goodbye to this most magical of places? I was saddened over the realization that I would never again march through those glass doors with the same sense of belonging, the same sense of community.
This school, these teachers, made such a difference in our lives. I cannot begin to share the worries and concerns I had back in the beginning. Yet with each passing year and each child, I learned I did not suck. I was doing OK. And most importantly, my kids flourished under the devoted and loving care of the teachers, therapists and staff.
I will miss terribly the days when my sons sought comfort simply by holding my hand. They are too big now to fit comfortably in my lap. "Mommy" has been replaced with the more formal, grammar school acceptable "Mom."
I will never again have a preschooler.
But I will always have that preschool. And for that, I am so grateful.
Dedicated to Miss Kathy, Miss Lisa, Miss Rose, Miss Kate, Miss Colleen, Mr. David and the entire staff of The Barbara Vick Early Childhood Center.
Marianne is mother of three sons and the wife of a southside Irish fireman. She has learned that sometimes you're just too dumb to know what makes you happy. She blogs regularly at We Band of Mothers (webandofmothers.com) and curses with even greater frequency. Her material is written for the imperfect, the imprudent, and the impatient mothers who know that all this stuff is really very funny if you just give it a minute.
See more of Marianne's stories here.