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Major life changes always seem to announce themselves in my household with piles and piles of laundry.

Before our son was born I washed load after load of new sleepers and onesies and bin after bin of hand-me-downs. Then came our daughter and the extra wash cycles started anew. When our eldest entered kindergarten, the navy-and-white uniform clothes I’d ordered online seemed to arrive at our doorstep every week. Now, just a couple of years later, it’s time for our youngest to start kindergarten, and I’ve finally washed, labelled and folded the piles of school shirts, pants and sweaters that were staring me down every time I entered the laundry room.

If only it were as simple to sort and label my emotions as we hit this new milestone in our lives.

I’m Lori Fazari, and I help program and promote The Globe and Mail’s Life and Arts content. The rational side of me has known for a long time that our baby-rearing days are done. But it hasn’t felt real until now, a few days away from walking her down the street for her first school drop-off.

With two kids born less than two years apart, those early exhausting days, months and years seem like a blur of heightened emotions, frantic energy and a desperate longing for sleep. I pine for the time to look back at the embarrassingly huge number of photos and videos I’ve taken of their every small but memorable moment. But there’s so little time to linger in their past when their present urgently needs a water bottle filled, or soccer cleats found or dinner prepared. As parents, we have no choice but to live in the moment, and hope that, in spite of our many missteps and mistakes, they’ll turn out all right (and visit us when they’re grown-ups).

In many ways, this new phase my family is entering will simplify our lives. With one child in daycare and the other in school, many days felt like a long haul. On Sundays, my husband and I would pull out our calendars to figure out who would handle each drop-off and pickup. It’ll be a dream walking both kids to the same place and not worrying about a rush-hour drive home. Our bank accounts will also be less strained, though every parent we’ve talked to has said that while the incredibly high cost of daycare leaves you feeling cash-strapped, when the last cheque clears you don’t suddenly feel rich. The money gets spent in other expensive ways – extracurricular activities, sports, camps, braces, tutoring. Before the funds drain away I need to reallocate what we’re spending and try to save what we can in anticipation of postsecondary tuition.

There are other small ways I’ve anticipated the transition from daycare to school. I’m thrilled to be done with the weekly daycare show-and-share schedule, and the resulting guilty mornings I showed up without something that starts with the letter "j" in her backpack. And I won’t miss the little pink naptime blanket that came home to wash at the end of every week, and the many nights she tossed and turned till well after dark, unable to fall asleep thanks to said nap.

But for every win I have a new worry. Will she settle into the new routines of JK and listen to her teachers? Will she make new friends? Will she eat her lunch?

At breakfast the other morning, I asked her if she was looking forward to starting school. “No,” she replied.

“Why not?”

“Because no one’s going to make me friends.”

It shatters my heart to hear that she’s worried too, but we’ve walked this path once before with a boy who’s always been more shy and reserved than his bubbly sister.

And then, like so many of our conversations, she had moved on. “Why does it smell like nachos in here?”

You see, I told her, you’ll make friends because you’re funny like that.

I know my worries are small and that we’re lucky to be at this stage, but, as a parent, it’s hard not to fret about the future. There are many more heartaches to come, many more tears and meltdowns. Being in a new class with all those new kids means she’ll bring home all manner of viruses this fall and winter. Without the daycare commute our days will be shorter, but I guarantee we’ll have nights where she’ll fall asleep at the dinner table, or even on the couch while we’re cooking, worn out from the constant activity and commotion of her class. She’ll be cranky and lash out at us because we’re safe and comfortable, and the rest of her growing world is a messy unknown.

Being impatient, I will strive to contain my frustration as I sit with her to practise writing or work on “sight words” as we read, and remember how much time and effort it took to get my son to the stage he’s at, starting to read on his own and curious about words and their meanings.

But if there’s anything we’ve learned in the chaos and confusion of raising kids it’s that we’ll get through it eventually, that every phase and stage brings its own set of challenges and changes. And piles and piles of laundry.

What else we’re thinking about:

I haven’t taken the time to read for pleasure since before having kids. Then this year, on our first family vacation, I packed a novel – Esi Edugyan’s Washington Black. A few days in I hadn’t cracked the spine and chuckled at how foolish I’d been to waste space in our luggage. But then one afternoon I started on the first few pages, and her evocative writing quickly wrapped me in the journey of a former slave in the 1830s. I finished it a few days after arriving home. That led me to finally pick up Edugyan’s Half Blood Blues, and although I read it quickly, the rich characters have stuck with me. Both books landed on my nightstand once done, and I’ve marvelled at the steadily growing pile since then.

I read Barbara Gowdy’s The White Bone – our first Globe Book Club pick, chosen by host Margaret Atwood. And now I can’t wait for the next instalment this fall, hosted by Edugyan, who will announce her selection soon. In the meantime, I finally read The Handmaid’s Tale and started watching the show, so I’m ready for Atwood’s sequel, The Testaments, being published in September.

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