Milestone time. My oldest is starting kindergarten! How did this happen so fast?
For the past few weeks I’ve been going over a mental check-list every night as I lie in bed, trying to fall asleep.
Did I get that last item on the school supplies list? Check.
Did his new leak-proof Batman thermos arrive yet, the one with all the good reviews? Check.
Are his new shoes broken in enough, did he wear them again today? Check.
Have I decided on a first day of school picture idea yet?? Oh yeah, I did. Check.
But the other night, as I lay there wondering what would be a good first day of school lunch idea, a thought suddenly popped into my head. Who would he sit with at lunch?! Do all the kids in his class just sit together at a big table? He won’t know anyone on the first day, will other kids sit next to him? And then suddenly I was crying, imagining my first baby, standing in the doorway to that huge lunch room, gripping his brand-new Batman lunchbox, with no one to sit with at lunch.
Seriously, it took a minute to calm down. I reminded myself over and over that children have been starting kindergarten for decades now, my son isn’t the first. But he’s MY first.
He was the first person to call me Mom. He was the first person to make me question my sanity. He was the first person to show me I was stronger than I ever believed I could be. He was the first person to prove that my husband and I make the most amazing, and crucial, team ever. And he’s going to be the first one that I let go, to trust to the hands of (I’m sure) very capable teachers for an entire day. And for me, that’s a first.
The past two years of preschool for him hasn’t really prepared me for this impending kindergarten reality. He attended a small co-op in which one of the teachers is my mother in-law, my son’s grandmother. Let’s just say it wasn’t too terribly difficult to drop him off on that first day of preschool. He was ecstatic to be ‘playing with his Grandma’ for two and a half hours! His other teacher had also known him since birth since we used to tag along on numerous preschool field trips and come by to play on their playground way before he even started school there. And since the preschool is a co-op, I spent more days in the classroom Parent Helping and working on various committees then I did outside the classroom, especially once my second son was also attending there last year. And since I knew most of the parents there, I’d sometimes get text messages from the Parent Helper that day sharing pictures of his activities and smiles. I have very much been a part of his school life so far. To know he will be away at school all day, without me knowing what he’s doing or how he’s doing, has got me acting crazy like a brand-new mom again, with all the feels.
So, when he rides away on that school bus, looking way too grown-up with that big backpack on, and I wave enthusiastically with my brave “you’ve got this” smile on my face, it won’t be just for him. I’m going to be reminding myself that parents have been doing this for decades, sending their kids off to new big adventures for the first time. They’ve been letting go, trusting others, over and over, way before I’m doing it today. He’s got this. I’ve got this.
Mandy Watts is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Crownsville with her husband, Justin, who runs their family business, and their two sons, 5-year-old James and 3-year-old Luke.