I’m Cool With Transitions

posted in: Motherhood 25 comments

My oldest boy is 5, and has been in a structured, educational environment for over two years. He has moved from nursery to pre-school to pre-K to kindergarten, and I have shed nary a tear. 

I absolutely understand the emotions of parents who send their beloved child of to the big world of kindergarten, especially if it’s their first. It’s a big deal. It’s no longer a couple of hours in preschool. It’s longer hours of learning and socializing, which means longer hours doing things without you, the parent. It’s the beginning of a separation that will be normal. Your child will do things without you watching every step, or capturing every moment. You’re letting them go, just a little bit. 

I am not that parent. I didn’t cry when he turned 5, or when the realization hit that my son is a kindergartener. Five! One whole hand. So big yet so little. So different (and less of a horror, let’s admit it) than 3 or 4. 

I didn’t cry because I’m not sad that he’s 5, that he’s old enough to read and write. I’m not sad that he’s a big brother of three younger siblings. I’m not sad that he’s finally, FINALLY talking (thank you speech therapy). I’m not sad that he has turned the corner on so many issues, and behavioural challenges. 

I love that that he’s 5, and helps me around the house (when he feels like it). I love that he understands actions and consequences (also, bribery and incentives). I love that he knows what sharing means, and is willing to do so half the time. I love that he has friends and plays with others. I love that he’s athletic. I love that he is no longer afraid in the pool, and enjoys swimming. 

We have come a long, long way with him. 5 looks amazing on him and I know that 6 will be even more so.

_____________________________

A few weeks before he turned 5, I confessed to a few close friends that I couldn’t write a birthday post for him, because things were challenging between us. The child I spent the most one-on-one time with by virtue of being the firstborn, felt distant. 

It was of course, early days with the twins, and managing the emotions of a 2 1/2 year old going through the notorious terrible twos, and horrendous threes. It was me, up to my neck with nursing and not sleeping and four children and household and husband and needing to write. It was him, going through all kinds of transitions from 4 to 5, from big brother of one to big brother of three, and goodness knows what else. 

Our bond was lost in all the mess and chaos, and I didn’t focus on finding it. Instead, I was tired and angry a lot. I was impatient and frustrated. I didn’t like him sometimes, and disliked myself more for feeling that way. I was stingy with my affection and time.

It was not my finest mothering moment.

___________________________________

The new year brought a new boy. It was like a lightbulb went off in him, and he turned so many corners. His transitions smoothed out, he shed that prickly skin, and emerged shiny and bright. With his light, I found my way back to us. 

So no, I shed no tears over the fact that my son is old enough for kindergarten. I rejoice in his growing up, the milestones, the many steps he has taken, the obstacles he has overcome. I do not wish time to stop, to freeze him as he is, because I want to see him grow up to be the fine young man he is meant to be. 

But ask me again in 13 years time when he heads off to college, I’ll probably be hanging onto his shirt and bawling my eyes out.

Growing up

Alison
Alison Lee is a former PR and marketing professional turned work-at-home mother. After a 10-year career in various PR agencies, and of the world’s biggest sports brands, Alison traded in product launches and world travel, for sippy cups, diapers, and breastfeeding. Alison's writing has been featured on Mamalode, On Parenting at The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Everyday Family, Scary Mommy, and DrGreene.com. She is one of 35 essayists in the anthology, My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Leaving and Losing Friends. In 2012, she founded Little Love Media, a social media consultancy specializing in blog book tours, and because she doesn’t sleep, is an editor at BonBon Break, an online magazine. Alison lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with her husband and four children (two boys and boy/ girl twins).
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  • February 2, 2015 Rea

    Aww, teary-eyed! I even had to breathe deeply several times earlier before making a call to my son’s preschool to enroll him. It took me so much time just to make one single call. Man, I’m gonna have trouble with letting go. I can see how it has been tough for you but you handled all these with grace. You’re a great mom!

  • February 2, 2015 Bev

    I can’t get over how big he looks! So glad to hear things have turned a corner and you are celebrating this time. I imagine it’s an exciting transition!
    Bev recently wrote…Thank you notes: Juno, date nights and playdatesMy Profile

  • February 2, 2015 Lisa

    Love that quote! I get this, too. My girls each have their peculiarities that drive me nuts. Even though I always love them, there are times when I don’t like them so much. I’m not much of a crier, either, and haven’t cried much over my kids’ transitions into becoming bigger kids. AS you said, though, that may change when I’m sending them off to college (in just 6 short years for my oldest!!!!!)
    Lisa recently wrote…In the Wink of an EyeMy Profile

  • February 2, 2015 Nina

    Alison, I relate to every word. I am not of the freeze time sort AT ALL. What other choice do we truly have than to accept each milestone and celebrate it. There is no going back so I don’t really get mourning that time that is gone. Sometimes I feel like I’m missing something with these things compared to the sentimentality I often read. This was a relief to read!!
    Nina recently wrote…Do Listen Read: Late JanuaryMy Profile

  • February 2, 2015 Shannon

    I love that picture of him and Barbara Kingsolver is my favorite.
    I am currently at the shirt-hanging bawling stage that you speak of. Not literally, but in my mind, I am.

  • February 2, 2015 Sisters From Another Mister

    ha … i have one that just turned 17 and i remember five like it was yesterday and i want it back.
    i do.
    i want to do it all over again …
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  • February 2, 2015 Chris Carter

    I never had a hard time with Kindergarten- it wasn’t that much different than pre-school. It was FIRST GRADE that killed me for both kids, because it was all day.

    I love your honesty as always Alison. Those first months with TWINS no less, must have been so so hard on all of you. I’m so glad you both are doing so much better!!
    Chris Carter recently wrote…What Is True Love?My Profile

  • February 3, 2015 Natalie

    I love this photo of him! And so glad he turned a corner for you! 2015 is going to be a great year for you guys!
    Natalie recently wrote…Capturing the Small MomentsMy Profile

  • February 3, 2015 Elaine A.

    Age five is magical. I kid you not. And no pun intended. 😉 So happy to read this!!

  • February 3, 2015 Janice

    This was so beautiful and honest, I loved it.
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  • February 3, 2015 Lisha a Fink

    You are years ahead of schedule in understanding this. Kudos, mama!
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  • February 3, 2015 Leigh Ann

    The weepy milestones come and go for me. I definitely cried on my bit girls’ last day of preschool, and I’m sure I’ll do the same on Zoe’s last day. We love that place! And I will miss them. And I cried at the end of kindergarten because I loved their teachers so much, and 1st grade sounds so much older.
    Leigh Ann recently wrote…what I’m watching: what were we thinking? editionMy Profile

  • February 3, 2015 Julia

    My Mom has a very similar view of parenting and motherhood, that it’s a blessing to watch them move to their next milestone. I love that quote, you shared.
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  • February 3, 2015 Kim

    I admit I cry on the first day of school every year. This past one was a biggie – my youngest’s first day, too. I think that while I do want to hang on, there is also a big part of me that is happy – for all of us. We are doing this, they are growing and learning and I am too. I feel the bittersweet but know that we must move forward. And moving forward is good.
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  • February 4, 2015 Tamara

    It’s beautiful. It’s weird to feel distant from our own kids. It wish someone had told me that.. how it happens and it’s normal. I’ve had a few moments of, “Who ARE you?” to mine.
    I wish I could have gone through the turning five/starting kindergarten transition better. I had PTSD from my own horrible time. I think to have that taken away and to have just really studied my emotions during the transition would have been fascinating. I think I would have been bittersweet – definitely sad that life was changing, but also happy because five is pretty awesome. She helps me fold laundry, for goodness sake!
    Tamara recently wrote…The Long and Winding Road.My Profile

  • February 4, 2015 My Inner Chick

    Alison Lee,
    you know what I love about you the most?
    your. honesty.
    I, too, did not cry at these events w/ my boys…
    but I was saddened & physically sick when my son moved to Minneapolis…
    For about a week!!! xx
    My Inner Chick recently wrote…10 Things Your Husband Should Never Say If He Wants To LiveMy Profile

  • February 4, 2015 alexandra

    Something tells me that in 13 years, your eyes though filled with tears, will be the ears of joy and pride, as you look at your boy.

  • Five is fantastic!
    A very happy birthday!

  • February 5, 2015 Kimberly

    I love your honesty and I love that you found your way back to each other. A blessing indeed.
    I’ll cry for you.
    There…damn you.
    I’m that mom 🙂
    Cry. Don’t cry. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that we all are so happy to watch our beautiful babes grow into something special.
    xoxo

  • February 6, 2015 tracy

    Beautiful, my friend. xo

  • February 6, 2015 The Bride

    Yay for him and you! The thing that struck me about this was kids tend to be okay when they’re ready. Every kid’s milestone chart is different. We get anxious, but mostly in the end, they’re ok.

  • February 8, 2015 Christine

    I can’t believe how big he looks! I love this Alison and I’m so happy that he’s turned so many corners and coming into his beautiful 5 year old self. I wasn’t the cry at kindergarten or really any transition kind of mother. I thought it was weird – that I should feel all these emotions and want to freeze time but I didn’t because I loved seeing my boys grow and become their own person. OK, maybe I want to freeze time a little with my youngest but it’s just because I don’t want him to lose his chubby cheeks and his cute little high pitched 🙂
    Christine recently wrote…How to Achieve Balance in Fitness, Healthy Eating and LifeMy Profile

  • February 9, 2015 Angela Youngblood

    I totally get the not crying AND the whole wait a second what happened to my nice kid distance thing. I have had a similar experience with my oldest son too. What’s funny is how I get teary now that my youngest is going through milestones like pre-k and not because I’m sad but I just know that it’s over, really over. And that’s not all that sad, it’s just different. I too will probably get teary when my oldest graduates high school, but who knows there will be those other 3 still at home. LOL.
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  • February 10, 2015 Rebecca

    So beautiful. I love your honesty and excitement for his future and his ever growing independence. It’s insane how much he has grown since I began following your blog. I mean, yeah, we all get older and look different but it’s still surprising (and so fun) to see your son today. He’s a real deal kid! You’re a great mom and I love who you are as a person and your spirit. <3
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  • February 20, 2015 Jasbir

    I can relate to this. I didn’t cry when my eldest went to pre-school or later moved to primary school. I was happy and rejoicing with her, all her achievements. Some thought I was made of stone, honestly at that time, i thought so too but now with my third toddler, things are so different. Ask me in a couple of years when she starts her pre-school, I might feel and shd a tear or two, perhaps.
    Jasbir recently wrote…Do it for the livingMy Profile

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