Well, it’s here. The day we have all been anticipating and waiting for with both excitement and if we are honest, a bit of dread. Our baby’s first day of kindergarten. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first baby or if you’ve done this three times before. For me, this is my first, but I imagine that when it is time for my younger daughter to start kindergarten, I’ll feel a similar set of emotions.
You’ve played this morning out in your head a million times. If you’re like me, you’ve checked, doubled checked and in reality checked probably no less than ten times that you not only packed your kiddo’s lunch, but actually remembered to put it in their book bag. The list of to-do’s is complete. The school supplies, the name tags, the extra set of clothes. Check check and check.
But the emotions. Well, those, for me, definitely not in check. Over the last few months, every time I’ve thought about my daughter starting kindergarten, I’ve felt the tears immediately. Sometimes it’s subtle, I don’t think the person in line behind me at Target saw my eyes welling up as I unloaded the school supplies from my cart. But in bed at night…well that’s when the to-do’s fall away and are replaced with the questions and the full on sobbing. Did I cram in every special moment with her before the jam-packed days of school start? Is she prepared…not with the supplies, but with the emotional armor that she’ll need to deal with all the big kid stuff. Have I done a good job? Ah, that one gets me every time. Because when that question pops into my head, so does the mommy guilt that sucks at our souls and tears at our heartstrings. That guilt about raising my voice last week in a moment of impatience. The guilt about saying no to playing dolls because I was so busy trying to check things off the to-do list. That darn mommy guilt. It can be soul sucking.
The first day of kindergarten is more than about the cute new outfit, the shiny new backpack and the pictures with friends. It’s about sending our babies into this big scary world without us. Although we aren’t far behind, it feels like this major life transition happened in the blink of an eye. It’s a huge change in both their worlds and in ours. They are school age kids now. Little people, some with backpacks bigger than them, walking among the big kids. It’s about sending this little piece of yourself out there and hoping with every fiber of your being that it’s magical for them, even when you know that there will be tough days and hard moments. It’s about hoping that they will make good decisions without our prompting and trusting that the people we hand them over to will be their parents away from their parents. It’s about the waves from the bus window, a gesture that they see you and that you see them. It’s about getting in your car and appreciating the silence and then getting in your car and appreciating the noise again. It’s about that mom or dad next to you that has the same questions and fears but is putting on a brave face. It’s about letting go (a little) and also knowing that you will never let go.
The first day of kindergarten is about getting up tomorrow and doing the whole thing all over again, sometimes wondering if it is Groundhog day. Except that with each day our precious little babies are getting a little bigger, a little older, and a little wiser. It is knowing that you will have many more first days of school ahead of you. But today. Today is the only first day of kindergarten that you will have with this child. You got this mama, even if you feel like you are hanging on by a thread. And you know what, so do they.