I dropped off my oldest daughter at preschool the other morning and noticed something I had seen before, during a different season of life. The teacher had a pan of smooth ice on the floor in the carpeted play area. A pile of tiny toy cars and trucks sat off to the side, ready for wintry driving adventures. As I hugged Megan goodbye and headed out the door with her 1-year-old sister, Abigail, I realized just what a difference a year makes.
It was a chilly morning one year ago when I dropped Megan off for the first time. Because the curriculum in her class cycles back around each year, the teacher had that same slightly battered metal pan of frozen water on the floor, with the same pile of vehicles. She introduced Megan to another girl who was also new to the class, and the girls got down to business playing.
I said goodbye to Megan and left with Abigail, who was only two months old then. She was asleep by the time we got home. I brought her inside in her car seat carrier and set the whole thing gently on her bedroom floor. I shut the door and spent the next few hours writing, reading, and drinking hot tea.
That became our ritual two mornings each week. Take the older daughter to preschool, drive home, put the sleeping infant in her bedroom, and enjoy some rare quiet time to myself. Preschool mornings were sacred. I usually didn’t answer the house phone; often I took it off the hook entirely, although I left my cell phone on in case Megan’s school needed to reach me.
Winter progressed to spring. Megan thrived in preschool. During the last few weeks before summer break, Abigail sometimes remained awake during the drive home after dropping Megan off. Then she napped in her crib while I had time to myself. When preschool resumed in the fall, Abigail was still taking morning naps, but by last December I reluctantly admitted it was time to graduate to one nap a day in the afternoons.
|Abigail at home last week on a preschool day|
Now it’s me and a fully awake and active Abigail all morning on preschool days. It’s not the same as having a whole quiet house to myself while she sleeps, but the pace is more relaxed with just the two of us and no big sister around. Abigail toddles around playing with baby dolls and nibbling Teddy Grahams. We look at books. We do laundry. I discovered I have more freedom to run errands on preschool days. Going to the grocery store with one child is easier than going with two.
I also feel like this time is practice for when Megan starts all-day kindergarten this fall. My husband likes to point out that while I have spent the past year adjusting to being a mother of two, once again I will soon have only one child at home during the day.
That reality looms ahead of me. It colors the days I do have left with Megan at home. Yet, I’m still trying to process these two images in my mind: The first is of me dropping Megan off at preschool with a newborn in tow, and the second image is of me dropping Megan off with a walking, beginning-to-talk toddler squirming to get out of my arms so she can play with all the toys.
If I ever questioned the significance of a single year, I now have an answer.
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