Last Friday, my youngest son (who is almost 4 ½) graduated from his daycare.  I use the word “graduated”, because there was, quite literally, a graduation ceremony, complete with cap and gown and distribution-of-diplomas.  There was also a Good Night Good Night Construction Site theme (and the kids wore matching Good Night Good Night Construction Site pajamas), which suited the pint-sized dump truck-loving crowd quite perfectly.

This time around, I wasn’t surprised by the pomp and circumstance.  When my oldest went through it, though, I remember a bit of the “this is quite silly, he’s only 4” commentary running around in my head.  None of that this time – just sheer joy, pride, and of course, some nostalgia, that my youngest was about to leave daycare and head off to elementary school in the fall.

Though it was six years ago, in some ways it seems like yesterday that I was all worried about how to transition my first son to daycare.  Or whether I’d miss any of his “firsts” when I went back to work after maternity leave.  Or how on earth I’d survive pumping in the office or leaving town for work travel.

Today, as I sit here wondering “where did my baby go?”, I also remember that I’ve been asking myself that question most days since he was born.  In those early days, I’d wake up and LITERALLY see a different person in front of me than when I went to sleep the night before.  They do grow overnight.

As I see the chubby cheeks fade away a bit, and watch both of my sons become real boys, it’s hard not to get teary-eyed as a proud mama.

AND YET.  When someone asks my favorite kid stage, my answer is almost always “the one we’re in right now”.

I know how much I LOVE watching them learn new things and grow in their relationships with others.  It both surprised me and warmed my heart to hear my 6 year old pleading to come to his brother’s graduation ceremony.  (Yes, we let him skip the morning of kindergarten to come.)  And I wouldn’t change anything about how we’ve lived and loved the past 6 years of parenthood.  (Other than perhaps wishing for more sleep…)

Ironically enough, my little graduate went back to daycare this past Monday and will be there until mid-August.  The daycare does a great job of turning the place into Camp Earth for the summer.  Naptime in a sleeping bag?  Tents in the classroom?  Too fun!

But come August, we’ll have no more double-drop-off, double-pick up to contend with, as both boys will be in the same school.  And not having to pay for daycare after six straight years of it is something I can REALLY get my head around celebrating.

Need help as YOU “graduate” from maternity leave?  Join the next session of Mindful Return to meet other mamas going through the transition at the same time you are and learn helpful strategies for making life as a new working mama a success.

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