The parents' struggle in sending their children to kindergarten has long been documented. The anxiety, the apprehension, the pool of mom's salt and snot left in the parking lot on that first day of "big kid school" -- it's all been written about before.
But if you're dealing with the overwhelming emotion conjured when your youngest -- your baby -- walks through those doors for the first time wearing a backpack bigger than she is, then this post is for you.
My daughter, my firstborn, went to kindergarten four years ago. I remember snapping pictures of her posing by a bulletin board covered in construction paper bees, grass and flowers, welcoming her to "kinder-garden." I remember holding back the tears when she placed her hot pink Barbie backpack in her cubby. I remember studying the kind woman who would be responsible for my little girl five days a week. I remember walking back out to my car, her hand no longer in mine, and feeling alone.
Although my hand was empty that morning four years ago, my arms weren't. I had a baby in them back then. That baby was her little brother -- squirming and begging for the canister of puffy snacks in the diaper bag. Suddenly I didn't feel so alone. Someone still needed me from the hours of 8-3 five days a week.
But now, that little boy who was obsessed with Gerber Puffs is about to enter the same double-doors where I dropped off his sister four years ago. I'll snap the picture of him posing by a bulletin board covered in little yellow creatures giving him a "minion" reasons to love kindergarten. I'll stifle the tears when he finds his cubby and places the Ninja Turtle backpack inside. I'll study the teacher, the other kids, the distance from his desk to the bathroom because he's known to hold it for too long. Then I'll walk out to my car -- my hands and my arms empty.
I really will be alone.
For five years, my life has revolved around this blonde-haired little boy. While his sister was in school, we've taken spontaneous trips to the park on Tuesday mornings. He's tossed countless apples into my shopping cart. He's helped me match daddy's socks on laundry day. He's been my buddy, my helper, my sidekick.
Sure, there were days when I wished for silence. There have been times when I desired a quick shopping trip without his persistent cries for Capri Suns or overpriced gummies. There have been so many piles of laundry that had to be re-folded because he likes to wad t-shirts into a ball. There have been many days when I needed a break and would've gladly shipped him off to school.
But now that the time has come, I don't want to let him go.
I worry. I worry that he won't find his classroom when he disappears behind those double-doors. I worry the tray of sloppy mashed potatoes and chicken nuggets will be too big for him to carry. I worry about the meanies on the playground. I worry he'll forget to use soap when he washes his hands.
Will he become just another face in a sea of snaggle-toothed 5-year-olds?
Will his teacher know what works with him and what doesn't? Will she know hugs and talking about his puppy dog helps him to calm down? Will she know how special he is to me?
I worry that the once coveted silence in my home will actually be deafening. I worry that I'll no longer be considered a stay-at-home mom, but instead I'll merely be unemployed. I worry that I have no purpose if I'm not spending the majority of my time each day with at least one of my children. I worry that I won't be needed as much anymore.
He's ready, I know he is. It's time for me to cut the cord, loosen the apron strings. It's time for me to let him grow up. He's a good kid- smart and well-behaved. He's going to do fine in kindergarten. His sister did. He's ready.
But I'm not.
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