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BR Parents Blog: Goodbye Preschool, Hello Kindergarten

First published on Baton Rouge Parents magazine's blog.

I’ve done this before, and I survived. I will do it again and survive, probably even thrive. But I’m still feeling lots of feelings about upcoming changes in our family’s life, mostly about sending our second daughter to elementary school for the very first time.

Four years ago, I dropped my older daughter off for her first day of Kindergarten, and this August, it’s finally her little sister’s turn. I was all up in my feels with that first drop off, a million questions and concerns. I remember being hyper-fixated on cartwheel shorts–what are they and why didn’t we have any?!

Although I have a rising fourth grader and elementary school feels a little old hat, I’m still feeling quite emotional about sending my baby to Kindergarten, launching her “real” academic career in a way. Our little one is ready to join her big sister, there’s no doubt about that. We are very grateful that both sisters will be at the same elementary school, the ideal situation in any family. 

Thankfully, now we have plenty of cartwheel shorts to wear under jumpers and skirts if that’s the type of uniform she chooses to wear. (I also realize NOW that no, the school wouldn’t call me to pick up my daughter if the shorts she wore under her skirt weren’t specifically marketed as “cartwheel” shorts! But first-time Kindergarten mama Mari was an entirely different person!)

Another transition for us this year was, of course, saying goodbye to our beloved preschool in June, which was its own emotional experience. Our girl had attended that school since she was two, weathering ups and downs with COVID restrictions that cut short her Pre-K three year and flood waters that cut short her Pre-K four year. After a three week, half-day summer camp and a Tumbling Tigers add-on in June, we did our final carline drop off and pick up at the preschool we adored. Saying goodbye to such a treasured place and such deep friendships is never easy, so we’ve tried to be gentle on ourselves. 

This weird, in-between summer has been filled with job interviews and resume polishing for me as I’ve looked for something more professionally. Gratefully, I have accepted a new position that will start right before the school year. This means a huge number of changes hitting the Walker family all at once! Mama now becomes a full-time employee rather than a part-time, work-from-home freelancer. Although I’ll no longer be the education and community sections editor for Baton Rouge Parents Magazine, I hope to continue to blog here, to ease that transition on myself at least. I certainly don’t want to say goodbye to this beloved team and my incredible editor entirely!

As a second-time-around Kindergarten mama, I’m still feeling a range and depth of emotions: a little sad that her toddler/preschooler phase is over, nostalgic for those earlier days, unbearably proud of her and her readiness for school, and excited and grateful for her next phase in life. Because she is my last child, as she starts elementary school, I’m certainly feeling the double whammy of also saying goodbye to my phase of life as a mama of littles. And I was such a good mama of littles–time with my girls as babies, toddlers and preschoolers were some of the best times of my life…so far. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for us all, as we spread our wings and stretch into these new challenges and experiences. We’re ready to grow!