My dear girl,
Tomorrow morning, I will help you put on your new dress, slip your backpack onto your shoulders, and walk hand-in-hand with you into your first day of preschool.
I know you and I know you will be clutching my hand as tightly as I will want to clutch yours.
Today we visited your classroom. Tonight we talked about tomorrow, what you’ll wear, that I’ll leave you there and come back for you. I sewed Kissing Hands into your backpack. We practiced saying hello to your friends and telling your teacher that you need to go potty.
And then we took a short evening walk. I watched you push Elmo in his stroller, your school bag slung across your shoulders.
Oh my, how did we get here?
Wasn’t it just yesterday that I cradled you in my arms for the very first time? That I nestled you into your stroller for our evening walks because your legs hadn’t quite gotten that far just yet? That I spent mornings and evenings cuddling you and breathing you in, knowing that I was the biggest part of your little world?
You’re excited for school. You are anxious and nervous but excited too. These next few days will be rough for you and you will cling to me. Goodbyes will be heartbreaking for us both and I will do my best to hide my tears as I break your grip around my neck each morning. But you will settle in and I am certain, before we know it, you’re feet will be running towards your classroom as you blow me a kiss goodbye.
I am excited for school too. I am excited for all of the friends you will meet, the things you will learn, the ways in which you will grow. You will blossom in school, and watching that happen will be one of my life’s great joys.
But, I’ll tell you here, that sending you off to school also breaks my heart.
That your beautiful, unstructured baby days have come to an end. That you will walk into a classroom with rules to follow and certain ways of doing things that will inevitably change a bit of who you are. That already you are thinking about what the other kids will think about the things you say. That when we visited today, the swing was still a big too high for you to easily hop on and I don’t know if the teachers will jump in to help you with that.
Will your teacher know how to engage you? Will she try? Will she keep working with you so that she can break through your quiet, reserved nature to find the beautiful, bubbly girl underneath? Or will you get lost in the shuffle? Will you be labelled so quickly as ‘the quiet one’ before anyone really has a chance to get to know you?
How can I help you through these things? How can I be the mother you need when I am only one of the players on this stage? How do I preserve what we have as your world changes so drastically?
Where did your baby days go and what can I do to bring even one of them back, just for a visit? Because oh how I would do anything.
These are the thoughts that will keep me up tonight. These are the nervous and the anxious notions that temper my excitement. These are the tears I will cry over the days and weeks and nights to come.
But tomorrow? Tomorrow will be all about you and I will bring you only my excitement. We will make tomorrow special, with extra hugs, extra love, extra celebration. We will start our first-day-of-school traditions and we will bravely hide our nervous and our anxious in the shadow of our excitement.
And we’ll do it just as we’ve done everything in your three years on this earth – together, with joy and with love.
All my love to you, my school girl.