The Curse of the Preschool Quandry

Each year….in early February, an important decision must be made. I line all of the children up in my mind, and assess what schooling path to place each of them on for the upcoming school year. That’s right….the school year that’s over 7 months away…has to be set with a blood oath, marked with a signet ring, blessed by the tears of unicorns, and riddled with the nights of sleeplessness in order to truly experience parenting at the highest level here in Northern Virginia.

Northern Virginia is a hyper-reality where high achieving, college graduates, and technological professionals come together to breed, interact, and….compete. We have people who clean our homes, tend to our yards, deliver our groceries, and show up in mobile pet spas to groom our dogs.

Our children are enrolled in music, ballet, sign language, martial arts, soccer, baseball, gymnastics, swimming, underwater basket weaving…..okay that last one I made up….but I think you get the idea. We start these classes when they are 6 months old, and we tell ourselves that its helping them to be more well-rounded by exposing them to a variety of interests.

When we enter the preschool years, things really start to get exciting. It’s a virtual Hunger Games just to get your child into a program where they learn colors, shapes, and how to share environmentally friendly toys. Spaces are limited in these programs, and so people wait in lines as if they are camping out for a Star Wars movie release or Dave Matthews Band pop-up venue.

All through the month of January, we hear women debating locations and ideal number of attendance days as we float through parks, coffee shops, and grocery stores. It’s on everyone’s mind.

**Phew** do you feel it….the energy….it zips you up even under the best of circumstances.

This year I thought I had already pre-set my game plan for both the Brunette and Baby. I was going to bypass the January fluster. This year was going to be stress free. The girls are my only two remaining preschool aged kiddos, and I was confident in what was coming next. Then fall assessments happened at school…..and my plan hit the bricks. For a variety of reasons, it became apparent that my sweet little, big-loving Brunette might benefit from a little more time before moving on to Kindergarten.

Suddenly, and rather unexpectedly, I found myself in a state of indecision. I really detest indecision. People…I keep my sanity and my calm “see four kids is totally doable” facade through systems and plans. This one really shook me up…not even so much for the fact that my little peanut was struggling, or the worry it was in some way a reflection on me…..THAT it threw me….was what really threw me. Why was I so destabilized by this bend in the road??

I think each of us hopes we have grown as adults, and have learned from the mistakes of our past. I think we do navigate unknowns free of worry a great deal of the time….because we understand there are many things in life outside of our control. I think we do often trust in the bigger picture or plan for life….because we’ve lived enough days to know there has to be something more. However……every once in a while….we dont trust….we do worry….we do question….we do doubt…..because we are imperfect people trying to raise people. Even the strongest in our midst will face days of uncertainty.

The hardest part of having to shift my focus for the upcoming year had less to do with the specific child in question….and much more to do with the emotional hornets nest it opened up for ME. Change, even the good kind, is never easy.

The Brunette and I have a unique story. From the very first moments I held her, and the doctors mumbled “something’s wrong” I knew I wasn’t just a mother-advocate for her….but rather a mother-warrior. She would need me more than the others in many ways. It wasn’t a form of favoritism……it simply was going to be the bedrock of our journey together.

Perhaps it was out a spirit of naivety that I thought we had navigated some of our greatest huddles together already. Certainly she and I had forged a lifetime of choppy waters by the age of four….and had come out the other side stronger for it all. Had we not already given our time to the rocky path?? Couldn’t it be someone else’s turn to learn the hard lessons?

I apologize if I’m the first one to tell you this….but life is not always an exercise in what is fair. There isn’t a cosmic checks and balances system that says “as long as you are kind and good you are immune from struggle.” That’s in fact not at all how it works. Sometimes evil wins. Sometimes good people face challenge. Sometimes kids get sick. Sometimes people lose their jobs.

Much of life is outside of our individual control. However, how we navigate the circumstances we face, and allow worry to consume us…..are very much things we can in fact control.

We are not always the author of every detail of our story….but we are the choose your own adventurer writers of our souls. Life happens…but its not just happening to you……you have the power to respond… decide… thrive.

And so this morning….I will stand in a line and pursue a plan very different than what I had anticipated for this upcoming year for my little Brunette. It’s not a better or worse plan…its a different plan. It’s simply a gift of time, and for a variety of reasons….though unexpected….I think will turn out to be for the best. We will wait another year, and next February I will line them all in my mind, and make new decisions for the new people they have become.

Motherhood lived in technicolor reminds me that change doesn’t always have to be scary, but it will be shaping. Sometimes change just the pathway to blessings our imaginations we not big enough to foresee.

Author: Summer Smith

Summer Smith is a speaker, writer, and motherhood blogger. She and her family are currently navigating the suburbs of Northern Virginia. As the mother to four young children, Summer maintains her sanity thanks to her sense of humor, copious amounts of coffee, and Amazon Prime. Maya Angelou once said, when reflecting on her childhood, that her mother left an impression like technicolor stars in the midnight sky. Influenced by these words, Summer blogs at her website Motherhood in Technicolor, and can also be found on her Motherhood in Technicolor Facebook page.