You would think that on the third time around, I would be a pro. But let's be honest. When my first went to kindergarten, I had a potty training two year old and teething 5 month old at home. I didn't cry. I was grateful that she was finally getting the stimulation her little brain needed. It was full day kindergarten but we didn't know any different. She was my big kid. So I embraced all the newness of her school adventure.
The second time around, I didn't cry either. I still had a 3 year old at home, and it was only 3 hours. Honestly I barely had time to get home, start a load of laundry, and make a snack before we were headed back to the school to pick up my middle little.
This time....I am a hot mess. Hot. Mess. I haven't even taken her to the first day and I get a lumpy throat every time I think about it. Not her though. She has been counting down for almost a year. She has been wearing her owl backpack for almost a week straight. She's so excited to FINALLY be in school with her sisters. She reads chapter books and can figure out multiplication. She is ready. But me? I'm not ready. Yes, I have filled out the forms, bought new shoes, and planned for lunches. But truthfully, I want to hang on to her littleness just a while longer.
Maybe it's because she has been with me every second of every day for over five years. Maybe it's because she has been my only buddy and my helper for two years. She has gone everywhere I have gone. She was with me when I argued about permits at city hall. She has emptied the dryer and folded clothes for me. She has sat in every shopping cart of every store I have gone to. We shared treats that we "didn't tell sisters about" for the last two years. Maybe it's because she has been the golden age for me. She's potty trained, buckles herself into her car seat, likes to do things for herself but knows when to ask for help, and she still loves to snuggle. Maybe it's because her kindergarten is all day. All. Day!
Maybe it's because, for the first time in 10 years, I will be alone. Each year that I have experienced the first day of school, I have left the campus with someone in tow, holding my hand. But this year when I leave campus, I will be alone. It's not that I will miss my sweet baby any more than I have missed my other two, but it's different. It's the end of an era. There's an episode of "Friends" where Rachel is moving out of Monica's apartment and they start crying because, "It's the end of an era!" That's how I feel. It's the end of an era. An era of having my babies at home. None of my kids attended preschool. I figured I could prepare them for school. And honestly I didn't want to share my precious time with them with anyone else. I'm not the mom that counts down the days until school starts so I can have a break. I love when my kids are home. I love being with them.
With each job I had before I had children, I felt like something was missing. It wasn't my true calling. But 2 seconds into being a mom, I knew I had found my purpose. My purpose isn't changing because my kids are going to all be in school, but it's different. There's a feeling of "now what?" The girls keep asking "what are you going to do all day?" I jokingly tell them I am going to be at school everyday, all day. Truthfully, I'm not sure what my day will look like. But the fact that I have 6 hours without anyone asking for a snack, or working on worksheets, or doing crafts, or playing games....it makes me sad. I will still grocery shop. I will still do laundry. I may talk to myself.
Many moms have said this is the best time of life because the girls are still young and with all of them in school I can pursue my own interests. I can also volunteer at school. My grocery bill will probably go down because I don't have any little ones with me asking for items not on the list. So, yes. There's that. But why am I sad? I think it's because even though it's kindergarten, it's the beginning of letting go. I'm not sending her to college yet but it's out there. I can't stop time. So I'm trying to embrace it. I know there are good things to come. Children cannot soar if you always hold their hand.
My prayer is that school will be everything she has hoped it would be. I know learning will take place, but I pray she also feels valued and smart and amazing. Because she is. I pray she gets hugs and high fives and gets to laugh. I pray she remembers all that we have taught her at home about being a good friend, a good listener, a daughter of God. I pray that the other kids treat her with kindness (cause if they don't, her two sisters will take them out!). I pray that she loves school. I also pray that at the end of the day, she comes home and tells me every single detail of her day.
I pray that as we walk into her classroom tomorrow that she will walk in confidently. I also pray that as she lets go of my hand, that I will smile and.....let her go.
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