Sweetheart, I have been thinking about this day all summer long.
Being a mommy to two little kids in the summer isn’t always easy. Some days, the hours stretched into years.
So, when people would ask, “Are you sad your son is going to kindergarten in the fall?” my response was a proud and defiant, “Hell no!”
I have spent the last few months looking forward to the freedom that your schooling would bring. Between you spending seven hours a day in kindergarten and your little sister starting preschool, I felt like there was a light – nay, a huge, beaming rainbow – at the end of the tunnel.
So, why is it that this morning, there are tears in my eyes as I help you fasten your belt around your khakis?
Why do I feel a lump in my throat as we tie your new shoes?
I know how much you’re going to love it there. You love being around other kids. There were days that I picked you up from preschool when you would ask me how many more hours until you got to go back.
You love learning. You constantly amaze me with the way you retain knowledge, from knowing what a black hole is to knowing the back story of every mainstream superhero.
We sailed right through your mock-first day of school when you got to meet your teachers, see your room and learn the building. I know that you will love this new adventure ahead of you, which is why today has been highlighted on our calendar for months.
So, why am I choking on words as I pack your sandwich in your new lunch bag?
I have been anticipating this moment so much that I didn’t even blink as we dropped entirely too much money on your uniform and school supplies. I have been clinging to this day during the dark moments of summer, like the time you and your sister had simultaneous meltdowns at the pool in front of half our neighborhood.
I have wanted this, dreamt about it, even drooled over it a little bit.
But here I am, driving you to your first day of kindergarten, and part of me hurts so badly that I want to turn the car around.
I catch a glimpse of your big eyes in the rearview mirror. You look nervous and excited. You look so handsome in your collared shirt. You look like a big boy ready to take on the world.
And that is when I can no longer control my Mommy tears. They spill over my cheeks and drop into my lap. I turn up the music a little louder to distract you from my emotions. I don’t want you to know that there is a little piece of me that is heartbroken. It isn’t that I’m nervous for you or afraid that you won’t do well. It is the sheer magnitude of this milestone. You are growing up, and I can’t stop that from happening.
You spot one of your little friends heading into class, and you tap me on the shoulder from the back seat.
“OK, mom, time for me to go!”
You will have many more first days of school, but today feels like one of the big ones. Today is the day that, despite how much I have looked forward to it, has jumped onto my shoulders, put its hands around my neck and is taking my breath away.
You look at me, waiting for me to let go of your hand so you can get on with your life.
Tomorrow, or next week, or next month, I’ll be more than happy to drive you to school and kiss you good-bye. But today, you’ll have to excuse your momma as I hold you a little tighter and a little longer.