My Thoughts on My Last Child Starting Preschool

The following content may contain affiliate links. When you click and shop the links, we receive a commission.

Eva Amurri shares her thoughts about her last child going to preschool

Today is Mateo’s first day of school. It feels surreal even saying that! Today, he’s starting in a 3’s class, at the same preschool where we sent both of his older siblings. There is so much comfort in the fact that I know the school so well and that I know he is in the absolute best hands with his awesome teacher this year. But the feeling is also bittersweet. I was never emotional when my other two kids graduated from preschool, because I knew that it wasn’t the last time.

But, now, we’re at the beginning of the end! Ian and I have come to the decision not to have children together, and so there’s a certain finality to everything with Mateo. I didn’t expect it to hit me so strongly as we passed this milestone, since it is the first day of school and not the last, but it definitely has. I think that there’s more to it than just being a definitive marker of the passage of time, though. Of course, Mateo is growing up. There’s no denying that. And he certainly seems ready to rule a small country lately, not just make the transition to school.

in this picture

But, I’ve also been feeling that there’s a shift in me, and in my parenting. There’s something different that happens when there are no more diapers in the house, when your kids need you less in those immediate ways, and when you can go for an hour or two at a time of your children playing peacefully without you needing to oversee them. In a way, it’s made me have to rediscover who exactly I am in this phase of life. We’ve passed through the “surviving” period, and into…something else.

I can’t really tell yet what this something else is. After all, Mateo is still only three and a half. It’s not like I have middle schoolers. But we can be sitting on the couch in the evening, me nursing a glass of wine, and I can calmly tell everyone it’s time to go up to bed. Then, I watch as all three march up the stairs, brush their teeth, and get in their beds. Of course, there are days or phases when chaos still ensues, but I have actual time to think now. I have moments where I wonder: am I doing this right? Am I imparting what I want or need to impart to them, from parent to child? In short, I find myself getting existential with it.

And that’s not always a good thing. When you’re “in it” with kids (and by “it” I mean the drowning feeling of barely making it through the day, overstimulated, then staring at the wall for an hour once they’re mercifully asleep) you don’t have time to stop and think much about HOW you’re doing it. You’re just doing it, and that’s enough. The children are fed, they are watered, they are loved, they are safe. But now I’m done drowning, and I’m taking inventory.

in this picture

Mostly, I’m satisfied. But as Mateo heads off to school there are certain things I notice. For example, he listens less to me than both other children combined. They generally seem to care how I feel about things (their behavior, most importantly) but Mateo certainly does not. He is happy if I’m happy with him, sure, but the need for my approval simply is not there. He really doesn’t do much that he doesn’t want to do. I know, as a third child, that he’s not exactly an outlier in this way, but I do feel like I’ve actively parented him less than the other two. When survival is happening, you’re not exactly checking your notes as you move through the days.

Mateo does and says things that the other two kids would never get away with. But either I don’t care as much as I used to, or I’m too burnt out to fully correct it. Are they really important things? Not really. Will I notice it more and care more when it’s a five or six-year-old saying wild things to me and not a three-year-old? Probably. How will it manifest in a classroom? Will he behave himself in a school setting?

These are all the things I think to myself as I send him off on this adventure. Thankfully, they’re not the only things I think. I also think about how I’ll never worry about him when he’s at school all day. His resilience is unmatched. I think about how great it will be for his endlessly curious mind to be challenged every day in a way that I simply don’t have time to at home. I think about how much he craves friendships with children his own age, and that now he will finally be able to have children at his birthday parties that he isn’t related to! The next years will be a huge time of growth for my sweet, silly, and smart last little boy.

But, I think they’ll be a time of growth for me, too! And for Ian and I as a couple. As we get further away from the baby years, we get closer and closer to whatever this next chapter will be. I have no idea what’s coming, but I think it will reveal itself as a time to learn even more about ourselves individually, and about us as a family unit.

I’d absolutely love to hear from any parents with kids in that next chapter of life! How have things changed, and how have they stayed the same? Did you find yourself shifting and changing as a parent when the last child started school?

Shop the post…
Photographs by Julia Dags | Copyright © 2023 Happily Eva After, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Share this post:

Leave a Comment:

1 Comment

  1. Elsie W says:

    This! Mine are 11, 11 and 7 and I did notice a shift a few years ago when i stopped panicking if we didn’t have an outing or plans each weekend day – b/c how would we get through the whole day at home?!

    My #3 is so similar to Mateo, plus 3 years. Less mature than the first two (twins) but has an amazing vocabulary. A better sharer, cuddler and more empathetic but can’t tie his sneakers (yet). Can play by himself for hours where my older two come to me every 10 minutes to declare “I’m bored!” My response, “I’m not your cruise director.”

    Now that all three have after school activities, we are back in a different survival mode. Not the anxiety-induced ‘how are we going to get through the day’ but a day-by-day. ‘who brings whom – where and when’.

    Enjoy the transition! I learned long ago, everything is a phase – some last longer than others and we have adjust, adapt, accommodate
    to keep up 🙂

    09.11.23 Reply