Last month, after three years, we had the final community night for my daughter’s preschool. I looked around the room and smiled at what a varied bunch we were. Big, small, young, old, crunchy and corporate… each of us with a kid attending preschool.
At these gatherings, we do a check in (link is to my 2013 article). We get a chance to share one joy and one challenge of being with our kids. The group is a powerful experience and, because it was the last gathering of this group of parents, many of us were emotional.
I’ve come to realize that these circles are valuable because I’m given the opportunity to not-solve the problems of everyone there. As you’ll see in the 2013 article, I don’t always take that opportunity.
I did better with listening at my 8th gathering. Some parents were saddened by the thought that their time in the community was coming to an end. They shared that their kids were also feeling sad about leaving the community and moving on to kindergarden. Here’s what I took away with me from the meeting.
Sadness about the end is an opportunity to teach our kids, and ourselves, about the realities of life. The reality being that everything ends and that it is ok to feel whatever we want about endings, including sadness.
It’s OK to show emotion.
My children think I’m the strongest man in the world. They’ve also seen me cry. They know I’m real.
When you feel the sadness of the ending, remember the craziness of living with your children. Hold the sadness of the ending against every parent’s fear that “this will never end!”
Hold the two qualities in your heart and look for a chance to teach it to your kids.
This lesson is everywhere – traffic, winter, rainy days, Monday, smog…
It’s seems strange but, when I’m calm, the sadness leads me to joy when I’m back with the kids. There will come a time when my children are not going to be cradled in my arms yelling at me.
The trick is to focus on the cradling, rather than the yelling.
I was also struck by what a fluke it was that we ended up together – sitting on little chairs, at preschool, in Colorado, on a pleasant spring night.
I know enough about the private lives of the other parents to realize that we’ve all experienced a variation of death, illness, divorce or hardship over the last three years.
In addition to shared hardship, it struck me that we happen to be lucky to have healthy kids and the ability to send them to a place where they are loved.
Tens of billions of people have lived on our planet and I ended up on my little chair, sewing a pillow for my daughter, smiling to myself.
I’ve been chuckling about that for a month.
Very few people, in the history of people, have the opportunity to live the life that’s available to us.
What are you grateful for?