Carrie Maldonado – Writer

Freelance writer, wordsmith, and novelist

So the Biscuit is graduating from preschool. If you don’t have preschoolers, or haven’t in a while, it may surprise you to know that preschool graduation is a thing. Like, a big thing. Caps and gowns. Now, if you are like I was oh, 2 months ago, you might be tempted to think preschool graduation is a bit over the top, or even silly. After all, I don’t want to set Bisky up for Trophy Kid Syndrome, expecting over-the-top praise for accomplishing life’s basic expectations, and to be brutally honest, graduating preschool is not even an accomplishment per se, since all they had to do to achieve it was…attend preschool some of the time, which was not in their control (for the most part).

But after a trip back home and some reflection on change, I’ve decided that it’s awesome, and here’s why:

First, is that I’ve had a lifelong tendency to discount significant milestones in my life without celebrating or noting them, and looking back, this makes me sad. A lot of it’s due to my ongoing fear of commitment. If I say a proper good-bye, it means letting go, and THAT does certainly not come easy for me! The positive side to this is that I usually maintain a strong connection to friends and colleagues after I move on. At least, I used to. Current life circumstances being what they are, I’m pretty much a terrible friend to everyone in my life and formerly reciprocal relationships have definitely suffered from my neglect. But even prior to the twins, novel releases, two startups in one family chaos that is our lives right now, I’ve steadfastly refused to acknowledge endings in my life.

On a related (I promise, this is related) note, it’s funny how most human beings say they don’t like change, and yet life IS change. You’d think finally accepting it would be an evolutionary advantage, given how toxic stress is to our general well-being, but that just doesn’t seem to be the case. Most psychologists consider any change at all (even positive change) to be a major stressor. This basically means that I’ve been in a state of high stress for five, no seven, no probably 13 years now thinking about it. Good thing I work out regularly or I’d probably be dead. But anyway, when I go back ‘home’ (home being basically anywhere I used to live, since I’ve moved around a considerable amount), I’m always taken aback by two things: The fact that some things have changed from the way I remember them, and the fact that some things haven’t! Going back to the street I grew up on (which I do every time I go back to my home town because as I mentioned, I don’t let go), it’s funny to see how TALL the trees are compared to in my imagination. I guess trees really do keep growing over twenty-five years….and WOW I’m old!

The fact that there can be such dramatic change makes it feel almost impossible that anything could stay the same…that’s almost more surreal maybe because my whole existence has been re-written several times in the last five years. As an example, I worked out at the gym I used to go to every day for just about ever back in Southern California last time I was there. It had been just over five years since I’d been there, but there were still some of the same regulars!! And the same posters on the wall, and many of the same machines! Talk about cognitive dissonance! And many of the people and places that used to be as familiar to me as my own face are still the same…but I’m not. It’s a hard feeling to describe…homesick, and unsettling, but also comforting. I know that if I wouldn’t have moved or had kids my life would probably also be much like it was. If I’d have had any say it would have been, at least because a) I loved my life and b) I hate change.

It’s funny, but they say having kids keeps you young. I don’t know about THAT but it certainly keeps you in a state of change. It’s alarming and sometimes sad (but also sometimes reassuring if you’re going through a particularly difficult season). Just when you get used to handling nighttime feedings, pumping, and odorless poopies like a boss, the little suckers sprout teeth and want real food. Then you master stroller configurations and redesigning life to revolve around two three-hour daily naps and after that BAM! One nap bites the dust. Then preschool starts, and long lazy days, park time, and not being around OPK (other people’s kids) is a thing of the past. But that’s cool, because after about a year, you get to kind of like, or at least tolerate OPK without eye-rolling (but not free choice play. Never free choice play), and the obligation to volunteer weekly in your co-op becomes less a burden and actually something you enjoy. It seems like you’ll be a MOP (Mother of Preschooler) forever. And then there’s ‘graduation’, and suddenly you’re looking at the beginning of 12 years of institutionalized school, test scores, and your sweet little buddy being gone all day every day! Wahhhhh!!

Kids’ main purpose in life is to grow and change and trying to stop it is not only stupid, it’s abusive, so there’s no way to survive them except by learning to be more open to and accepting of change. Other than the by-product of life-ending stress, I am remaining hopeful that this will keep me resilient, flexible, and more open to new ideas than your typical forty-something Gen-Xer. So because of all this, and because I don’t want my kids to be sad that their special moments went by without notice, we celebrate. We have parties for EVERYTHING around here, at least for them (I’m still a work in progress…hence the lack of date for the official release party for Grace Group). And that’s why I will be sitting in an auditorium, watching my five year old own the stage this Thursday night in her cap and gown, probably crying like a fool. Well, it wouldn’t be the first time I cried in Chapel…at least this time it will be happy tears and not just because I let the children break me.

How do you celebrate milestones?

**As I alluded to, I have a big milestone coming up in a few days – Grace Group will be released this Friday. I’ll be inviting you to help me celebrate in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!

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