The First's First

Today is Flashback Friday. In honor of the upcoming school year, I'm sharing a letter I wrote to Doodlebug two years ago, the night before she started kindergarten.

True to form, I haven't even started a letter for Rascal. I'm in total denial that my guy will be a kindergartner on Monday. Stay tuned.

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August 24, 2008

Dear Doodlebug,

Tomorrow we will turn yet another corner when you become a kindergartner.

It has been years, maybe even since you were a 1-year-old trying to be weaned, that I have felt this emotionally disoriented about a milestone. I would like to blame part of this on the hormonal surges happening inside me to help your baby brother grow, but I know myself well enough to admit that I would be tearful no matter the timing.

You are my firstborn and as a result, all of your firsts will be my firsts. Tomorrow is a big one.

Letting go is never easy and I’m happy that our bond is tight enough that we must both let go a little here. One thing we have in common is our quiet determination and strength, and both will serve us well tomorrow and always. Though we might be unsure about something, we tackle it with bravery and optimism and steely resolution. We might need to cry a little beforehand (ok, maybe a lot) but in the during part, we handle challenges with grace and resilience.

You will be more than fine tomorrow—I know that without any doubt. You are eager and curious and confident in your wonderfully observant way. You have memorized the first and last names of all 21 classmates. You know what supplies you need and where in the room they belong. You know that lunch starts at 10:56am and the day ends at 2:45pm. You know your teacher’s name and that he is tall and cheerful and reads books to the class in a wooden chair with a yellow plaid cushion.

You know that if you don’t want to play chase on the playground, you will find some chalk and draw. You trust that you will make new friends and believe that your class will be full of nice kids. You are thrilled that you’ll have new buddies to invite to your birthday party. You are more than ready.

Doodlebug, you will make it through tomorrow and enjoy every minute. I will make it through tomorrow and count every minute.

I want to view kindergarten as more of a beginning than an end, but the truth is that it’s both. And that’s where the tears come in. We will never have as much time together as we’ve had in the first 5 years of your life.

Of the tears I’ve shed this week, many have been about me wondering if I’ve given you everything you’ve needed to be ready for this milestone. Have I given you enough of myself? I think as a mother, that question will forever linger, but I know I have given you more than I ever imagined possible.

When you were four months old, I left you with our soon-to-be favorite sitter for the first time. I went out to my studio office 20 feet away and cried for an hour. Two years later I dropped you off at a preschool class consisting of 4 little girls and a sweet teacher. I barely made it to the parking lot before the tears came. It was never about your capabilities or those watching out for you—of course I trusted both. It was simply the ache of letting go.

Today, as I loosen those strings even more, I must trust that there are many great things ahead for us as we leap into this new adventure.

Please know that today, tomorrow and every day after, that I am forever proud of you, forever grateful to be your Mom, forever in love with you and your wonderful spirit. Doodlebug, I can’t wait to hear how your day goes.

I love you, Mama

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