Kindergarten. It is one of the first milestones in a list of many that you will remember. You will walk into that school with your backpack in tote as I follow you hoping you remember that I am there. You probably won’t want to hold my hand, but I hope you’ll humor me and do it anyway because I need it more than you do.
Today is hard for me. When I watch you walk into that big school, all I can think is, “Where did my baby go?”
You see, I can remember everything about your life from the time we found out you were in my belly until now. No seriously. Every. Little. Thing.
I was in Target the first time I felt you move- I had just checked out and was walking to the door when I felt the flutter in my stomach. I cried at the beautiful miracle growing inside me.
I remember that your dad and I planted trees two days before you were born- the same trees you would pick “limes” from a year and a half later (I am sure you’ve heard this story by now, but just in case, they were unripe oranges, not limes- oops).
In the hours before going to the hospital to welcome you, we shared Easter lunch with family. I never could go to sleep, so I sat on the couch at 4am entering my students’ grades and sending lesson plans to my team because I just had a feeling it was time.
I will never forget every detail of how you entered the world- you would not settle for anything short of a production and production it was.
I remember having to wait almost an hour to hold you for the first time and the absolute agony I felt until they handed you to me.
I remember the rush of emotion that swarmed my chest as I looked into your eyes for the first time and you wrapped your tiny little hand around my fingers.
I remember how you pulled up on your musical cube at 6 months, crawled at 8 months, and took your first steps on New Year’s Eve at 9 months.
I remember your first ponytail and what you were wearing that day.
There are so many things that I could retell right now, but there are also things I want you to know.
I want you to know that I am proud of you. Don’t ever forget that your dad and I are your number one fans. Whatever it is you choose to do, we will be right there behind you to support you. And on the days that I can’t be there physically, know that I am there in spirit. Because no matter where I am in the world, you are always at the front of my mind.
I want you to know that I wish I could keep you from heartache—but I can’t. And I won’t. Heartache hurts. But heartache is necessary. You will learn more about yourself in the low moments than you could possibly imagine. So, know that when the heartache comes, I will be there to pick you up.
I want you to know that I appreciate you. Nothing makes me smile bigger than thinking about how lucky I am to call you mine. Sometimes I sit watching you in awe of the little girl you have become. You are kind and determined and strong. And so absolutely “you.” I marvel at your confidence some days- how is it that at 5 years old, you know EXACTLY what you want? I learn so much from you every day, so thank you.
I want you to know that you don’t have to be perfect. I know that sometimes I expect a lot out of you- probably too much some days, but you don’t have to be perfect. You just have to be a kid. Perfection is a myth. We all make mistakes. So, apologize when you know you’ve caused another person pain, tell the truth when you’ve messed up, and move on. I know it is hard to go through the struggle of learning, but that struggle is so rewarding when it finally sticks. I remember one day this summer you came out of gymnastics class and said, “Mom, that class was really hard. I don’t think I can do it.” But here you are, finishing the summer session having grown. Worth every penny.
I want you to know that I am excited for what is to come in your life. While I am sad that you are growing up so fast, I also know that there are many wonderful things waiting for you down the road. Learning to read and sharing a love of books with me, learning to ride your bike without training wheels, your first crush, your first date, your high school years- homecomings, proms, best friends, choosing the right college for you and the right major and the right career. Your little life is just getting started, but it will fly by. Take it all in and relish in the moments that give you joy.
More than anything else, I want you to know that I love you. I love you with every ounce of my heart and soul. Some days when I look at you, I just can’t fathom how I could possibly love you more. Some days, I love you so much it hurts. Whether I’m upset or happy, frustrated or excited, my love for you will always remain constant.
So, as you walk into kindergarten today, humor me and hold my hand, smile for the pictures, and shower me with hugs and kisses because that’s what I’ll be clinging to when you walk bravely away from us and into the world that is opening up for you.