Today is my youngest daughter’s first day of preschool. You would think having gone through this twice before that I would be prepared, but I’m not. Quite the opposite actually.
After having two healthy, beautiful girls we were surprised after our third daughter, AC, was born. Her heart defect was the first surprise, followed by a Down Syndrome diagnosis. Her first 3 years of life included 2 open heart surgeries, 1 gastrointestinal surgery, countless x rays, echocardiograms, scopes, therapies, and sleepless hospital stays.
To say I’m a little protective of her is an understatement. Any change in her temperature or mood sends me into full-on medic mode. The one time that I did brush off her cold symptoms turned into an 8-day stay in the pediatric intensive care unit with RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus).
Despite all the hardships, I still want her to have all of the experiences that her sisters had and never let her diagnosis define or limit her. I decided to hire an advocate to help us navigate the IEP (Individualized Education Program) process. Along with her and my daughter’s early interventionist, we headed into our IEP meeting with the school staff where we were able to go over what services she would need at school and any concerns I had. It was a successful meeting and I felt confident enough that it would be a right fit for AC.
So here we are, on her very first day. Backpack ready to go and new shoes on her feet. Drop-off went well, no tears (on her end). Her preschool is only 3 hours, which isn’t long. But it feels long for me because I am rarely without her. I find that my apprehension of her starting school has more to do with my own fears of being separated from her.
In the future, I see myself using these 3 hours while all 3 girls are in school to get ahead of chores, get some grocery shopping done and some much-needed self-care. But for today at least, I’m choosing to sit in my car writing my thoughts down in the parking lot of AC’s preschool. You know, just in case something comes up and she needs me or maybe it’s just for me to still feel closer to her. Either way, here I am an emotional wreck counting down the minutes until dismissal, but feeling so proud of my little warrior girl who I know is absolutely crushing her first day of preschool.
Whether it’s the first day of preschool or the first day of college, watching your child do something where you’re not involved is difficult. Have you ever had a hard time letting your child go? I’d love to hear about it!