In just a few short weeks, the little girl I prayed for is going to be heading off to take on her next big milestone: kindergarten.
Over the last couple of months, it’s become all-too-clear that she’s ready. She’s started to sound out letters, to recognize a few different words and she’s even been doing some basic math—all on her own. We can check off every item on just about any kindergarten readiness list you might send our way. And, most importantly, my sweet girl can’t stop talking about this new adventure she’s about to embark upon.
She’s ready. I’m just not sure I am.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved watching her get to this point. She has become such a fun little human with a personality all her own. She’s witty and empathetic and so ridiculously smart, and the two of us have the best time these days, now that she’s old enough to enjoy some of the things I like, namely pedicure dates and reading "Harry Potter."
Plus, and this is a bonus, she wipes her own butt, which is really the level of independence I remember looking forward to most during her newborn days.
But school is also big. After all, kindergarten feels like the final nail in the coffin of her babyhood. It feels like I’m being forced to let her go just a little bit more on her path to adulthood.
Letting go is part of raising a happy, healthy, well-rounded child.
While I can’t wait to see all the ways she continues to learn and grow, I’m also a little terrified of what the future holds.
The inevitable "mean girl" moments with friends.
The first time she gets her heart broken.
The days when she’ll be made fun of for things entirely out of her control.
The times she’ll struggle to learn a concept everyone around her seems to just get.
The more painful benchmarks of shifting from childhood into adolescence that we all experienced, but that none of us necessarily want to see our kids go through.
And then there are the deeper fears.
Bullying. Sexual assault. School shootings.
The things that are happening at campuses across the country, but that none of us ever want to imagine taking place close to home.
The idea of sending my little girl, the love of my life, out into this world and expecting that world to take care of her is more than just a little bit terrifying.
And yet, here we are. She's practically glowing with the anticipation of what’s to come, and I'm fighting the urge to hold her back and keep her in the protective bubble of my love for just a little longer.
Of course, I won’t. Of course, I’ll let her go. Because letting go is part of raising a happy, healthy, well-rounded child.
It’s just bittersweet, watching with both pride and fear as my little girl enters this next stage of life.
If you’re about to send your baby off to kindergarten, I know you feel me. It’s a potent mix of emotions. I imagine even more so for stay-at-home moms, who are either rejoicing or mourning the several hours a day they’ll now be without their partner-in-crime.
It’s OK if it’s a little bit of both. After all, this kid has both tested and entertained you for the last five years.
But to the mom about to send her baby to kindergarten alongside mine, I’ve got no advice to give. Mostly because I’m over here feeling a little discombobulated over this whole thing myself. The only thing I can say is this: You’re in my thoughts. I know your heart is torn and that your brain is telling you this is an event worth celebrating, while your emotions are begging you to hold on just a little longer.
I know your brain will win, but I also know you may need some waterproof mascara when the big day finally arrives. And that’s OK.
I’ll be thinking about your little one, as well. Because he or she could wind up part of my daughter’s peer group. Even if not this year or next, you never know—they could land at the same school or the same college or even the same job one day. They could become best friends or romantic partners.
Your kid could turn out to be one of the biggest influences in my kid’s life. And vice versa.
So, how about we make a deal? I’ll keep working on raising a kind human and you do the same.
Then maybe, just maybe, this incoming class of kindergarteners will surprise us all with how they change the world.
A mom can hope, right?