Monday, August 10, 2009

Little Leaps of Faith

It is August 10. A month from now, Annie will have started school and will be on the eve of turning five years old. I picked up the phone last week, after literally months of torturing myself over the decision, and put in our request for her to be put in Young Fives instead of kindergarten. As I dialed the phone, I could hear my heart pounding in my chest. I felt like this was the first big decision I've had to make as a parent, and I'm still not entirely sure we made the right call. I think - I hope - I'll finally feel that way a few months from now, around Thanksgiving, maybe, when she's happy in her classroom and giddy with new friends and in love with her teacher. If and when that happens, I'll breathe a sigh of relief. Until then, I notice every day how much bigger and more capable she's getting.

Also last week, she asked if she could ride her bike around the block all by herself. Now, she asked to do this once at the beginning of the summer, and I said no. But we bike almost every day now, she's been to Safety Town, and she's great about watching for cars backing out of driveways, which is really the only danger in this scenario, since it's all right turns with no street-crossing involved. So when she asked again, two months later, I said yes. Still, I was a little nervous and a lot glad that her next-door buddy Wyatt wanted to go, too. They strapped their little helmets on and pushed off, pedaling slowly down the sidewalk next to each other, looking for all the world like a little old married couple. Wyatt's dad and I raised our eyebrows, shrugged our shoulders, and craned our necks anxiously to watch for them to ride around the curve, back into view. They did, giggling because they had ridden under a sprinkler and gotten very wet.

I'm back from an abbreviated Girls' Weekend with my best college friends, and I'm renewed by the knowledge that this parenting gig isn't work I have to do alone. I'm also reminded that I get to take time to nourish my other relationships - you know, the adult ones? With people who knew me before I was someone's mother and someone's wife? I'm tired (staying up until 3:00 a.m. was perhaps not our best choice), but grateful for the constancy of friends who encourage, who are honest, who make you buy a throw pillow and a new lamp because they know how it will look in your house, who can talk to you about things other than diapers and strollers. Sitting on the beach in the sunshine yesterday, magazine in hand, I missed Annie and Jemma fiercely, but I also hoped for them that they'll find friends like these one day.

This week, we have virtually no plans. I flipped the calendar over on Sunday and saw only blank space staring at me, thought, what do I want to do with this hot and sunny summer week? Never again will they be two and four; probably never again will we be this unscheduled. Today, we biked around and delivered Annie's birthday party invitations, went to the track to run, cooked a big pot of soup to use up some chard (I'm freezing it, and it will be perfect for an easy fall dinner), colored, played dress-up, and ate fresh raspberries from their grandparent's garden. Tomorrow, we might hit the pool, and then I'm thinking about taking them to the cottage for the rest of the week. If the weather holds, I'm eager to cram in a few more days at the beach before this summer is truly over.

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