Well, last week happened. Faculty meetings for me started on Monday. School for the girls (4 year old preschool for Zuzers, Toddler House for Coco) started on Wednesday.
You may notice there is a problematic two-day gap between Monday and Wednesday in regard to child supervision, especially as David's school started a week earlier. Fortunately, my parents saved us by having my dad come to St. Louis with us on Sunday and then my mom drove up on Monday to meet him. This meant that my dad was Home Alone with both girls all day Monday, which was a long day for everyone (except Coco, who took a two and a half hour nap).
When I walked in the door and greeted Zuzu and asked if she'd been a good listener for Bops, she said, "A little. Not really."
SO. There you have it. My dad was really glad to see my mom when she arrived Monday afternoon, and relieved to have some back-up on Tuesday, I'm sure.
Coco's first day of school was hard on my heart.
It started when there was another set of parents tearing themselves away from a little boy who was crying. I'm kind of a contagious crier, so seeing him cry made me want to cry. And then Coco started crying and calling "Mommy! Mommy!" and I started crying as I walked out the door. And then I couldn't stop.
I cried walking to my car, I cried the entire way to work, I cried on the phone with David. I texted me coworker to warn her that I was a mess and I tried to pull myself together as I walked into the building, but she gave me a hug when she saw me and I cried again. I'd go to a meeting and keep it together, but then I would get a picture from Coco's teachers of her playing happily), though the first one I could see her wet eyelashes and pouty lip, which made me sob hysterically in my office) or of her napping peacefully, and I'd lose it and cry again. It was brutal. I was ready to quit my job and home school them forever except that actually I was really excited to be back at work. So conflicted.
Anyway, I think a lot of it was complicated by that quiet nagging grief of starting preschool and toddler house and nobody starting kindergarten. This has been a slow, creeping feeling. There was no major trigger. I didn't love seeing back to school kindergarten pics on Instagram, but they didn't feel like a knife to the heart, either. There wasn't One Day when everything felt terrible. Except, I guess, for last Wednesday, when I cried all morning. It felt like I was crying about Coco, but I think it was more than that. By lunch time I had managed to stop sniffling, but I had to take ibuprofen for my crying-hangover headache in the afternoon because my essential oils were not cutting it.
Coco is still not thrilled to be dropped off at school, but she likes her teachers and they promise me that her tears dry very quickly. In pictures, she's always looking happy or focused, raking the yard or coloring or playing in the sandbox or washing her hands. When I ask her at home if she had fun at school, she always responds very enthusiastically, "Uh-huh!" so it's just that initial moment of separation that SHREDS MY HEART on a daily basis.
Zuzu, on the other hand, has had a seamless transition in terms of drop-off. A hug, a kiss, a see-ya-later, got-stuff-to-do. When we went to an ice cream social for parents at the school on Friday afternoon, Zuzu didn't even hang out with us. She was super excited to see us, but then went off to hang out with her friends who were also too cool for their parents. But it warmed my heart on Friday morning to see her run over to the toddler house playground (with her bestie) to comfort Coco when I was leaving. Coco quit crying when she saw Zuzu, so I'm really happy they are at the same place.
Both girls have been pretty worn out and tired from the new transition (David and me, too!) so Coco goes to bed easily and Zuzu gets tantrumy in the evenings (charming). The other night she demanded something and said, "If you don't do this, I'm going to BREAK ALL YOUR THINGS!"
(She talks to her dolls A LOT about "consequences," which is pretty reflective of how often we're having those conversations at home.)
We also have hit the wall on what Zuzu wears.
Now, here's the thing. I LOVE dressing my kids. I love picking out their clothes. I love seeing them in cute outfits. I think that part of it is just that I happen to enjoy clothes, but part of it also is that since I'm not with my kids all day, I want the people who are with them to see that they are loved and well cared for and the only way I know how to do that is by dressing them in matching outfits and brushing their hair. They may be stained and ratty and tangled by the end of the day, but they at least they start the day looking like someone cares about them.
(Sidenote: I totally realize that no one is actually judging me if my kids are dressed like ragamuffins because people understand stubborn toddlers and preschoolers, and I certainly am not judging people whose kids clearly are picking out their own clothes, but it still makes me feel better when they are wearing cute outfits.)
I am willing to work with what Zuzu wants (mostly dresses, the softer and twirlier the better). But I like to give her two options and have her choose. This worked pretty well last year. This year, though, she'll say, "No, I'll show you what I am going to wear." And she'll go to the closet and pull out something else. This results in me hiding a lot of clothes, but I can only do so much. She has adorable shorts outfits that I'm begging/bribing/manipulating her to wear, but she's not having it. Today she insisted on wearing a ratty pair of leggings with her new favorite t-shirt (a rainbow shirt from Target) even though it's going to be 85 degrees today and I tried to convince her to wear shorts. So I guess she dresses herself now and I just learn how to roll with it and be flexible. Insert gritted-teeth emoji.
Also? Yesterday I asked if she wanted an orange with lunch. "I'm not really into oranges anymore, Mommy."
Transitions are always rough, so I'm reminding myself that we'll find our footing next week. Or at least by midsemester. In the meantime, lots of after-school snuggles and early bedtimes for everyone.