Share This Post

Mum and Dad

The exquisite loneliness of your last child going to school


Melissa Willets

posted in Parenting

I managed to keep it together, even when my youngest child burst into tears at the door of the preschool. She looked up at me with watery eyes, and an expression that said what I felt: I don’t want to let go of your hand. Actually, she was clinging to my leg as if we were standing on the edge of a cliff. When the teacher pried her fingers off of my thigh, she cried as if she were being lead off to her execution, her calls of “Mommy” slicing into my heart like knives.

My smile faded only when she was out of sight, and I walked slowly toward my car, my heart as heavy as an anvil in my chest. I swallowed against the giant lump in my throat as I replayed this same moment with my first and middle daughters. It had never been easy to drop them off at school for the first time, but today, I was headed home alone. Alone.

Sliding into the front seat of the too-quiet car, I couldn’t fight back my tears any longer. They fell hot and fast down my cheeks. I pulled out of the parking lot reluctantly, and drove as if on auto-pilot back to our house. Where no one awaited me.

sending your last child to school

Opening the front door, our house echoed with nothingness. No screams or peals of laughter. No TV blaring. Just eerie silence. The space that typically feels too small and crowded with kids and toys and busyness, suddenly seemed huge and cavernous.

Why didn’t I feel the same joy I’d seen other moms showing off on social media once their entire broods went to school? How come the last thing I wanted to do was pour a glass of champagne, click my heels in the air, and whoop with glee?

Instead, the emptiness inside felt practically suffocating. Would it be too dramatic to get back into my bed and sob? About being at this point in my life? With all of my children having grown up too fast? That they’re old enough to go to school, and start turning into real little people with their own lives, without me?

How much longer until I could pick up my daughter? Four whole hours? Sigh.

Sure, I had things to do, but the lack of distractions and demands from my kids seemed depressing, not liberating. It was like when I went to Target alone, and didn’t know what to do with myself without the kids throwing things in the cart and crying for Starbucks. Except this was my life now. Each day of the week. Forever.

No one was going to need me from the morning, until after lunch. It was just me. Just. Me.

How did I get here? How did it all go by so quickly? Wasn’t it just yesterday I’d given birth to these children? I wasn’t ready to say goodbye yet. I don’t feel that impulse to celebrate my youngest child going off to school. No, I wanted to mourn this milestone having come too soon.

A few hours later, I’m not sure who was happier at preschool pick-up; me, or my daughter. We hugged and kissed like we’d been separated for weeks instead of just the morning. Everything about her was like heaven, from the softness of her cheeks, to the delicate smell of her hair.

When your last child goes to preschool

I was never going to let her go again.

Until tomorrow.

Can you relate to how I feel sending my youngest child to preschool?

Share This Post