I felt like I’d won the jackpot. My daughter met the requirements for transitional kindergarten, and it was free!! All I had to do was fill out an application. I set my alarm for the morning I could turn in the application, filled it out as quickly as I could, then waited anxiously to hear any news. When I felt enough time had passed, and I still hadn’t heard anything, I called. When they didn’t return my call, I got in my car and drove to their office. Probably because they were annoyed with me, I soon received the good news, the ‘acceptance letter’. I would have both kids in school, 5 days each week. It felt too good to be true, I would have 4 hours to myself each day. It was going to be a much needed break from the sometimes strong-willed, 4-year old Ellie. Things were good.
I spent my time running errands, reading, working out, lunching with a friend. I seemed to have found a good balance, finally finding some ‘me-time’. Life was good…For about 4 months. In November, we felt God leading my husband to make a job change, which meant an out-of-state move. We quickly worked to get our house ready to sell, hurried and made a house-hunting trip, lined up movers, packed what we needed short-term in the back of my car, said our goodbyes, and we were off. I think I cried more when we said good-bye to her teacher than Ellie did.
I wasn’t sure how either one of us would handle the increased time together. I didn’t want to lose that free-time I enjoyed so much. I briefly looked for preschools in the new area (since they were not offering the same TK program), but found them to have a waiting list, be expensive, or both. So I made the decision to keep her home with me. I braced myself for the attitude and willfulness I had seen before. But instead, something else happened. I saw a sweet, caring side of her emerge. A companion for me as I struggled to adjust to our new life. She was a coworker as we oversaw the renovations of our new house. She was an encourager when I felt lonely and isolated. She was a reminder that I had to keep moving forward, I couldn’t stop and wallow in self-pity. She became a bright light amongst the clouds and rain.
The time with her was precious, almost sacred, as I knew she would be in school in a short time. I cherished the moments as I watched her soak in the attention I was able to give her. I was able to see her strong-will through new eyes and see how it could be a good thing. And I worked to find better means of communication to make it through the behavioral issues that still happened.
The time with her was a gift, an unexpected bonus, something I would not have received if we hadn’t moved. And I wouldn’t have known what I was missing. But God knew when I looked back at this season of transition, filled with so much stress and frustration, I would also smile when I was reminded how we grew closer and how I understood her more.
I know that time passes quickly and they grow up fast. But sometimes in the midst of diapers and naps, temper tantrums and fits, homework and practice, it’s easy to forget. I’m thankful I was given the chance to cherish her childhood a little while longer, to hold onto her and soak her in, and to be more intentional with my time with her. It’s time well spent.