“If you hold our hands, then you can have extra sprinkles on your ice cream this afternoon,” said my husband. Parenting at its best. Or most desperate. For us it was the latter as we tried to hold on (literally) to those last few precious moments before we walked M into kindergarten. As we walked her into school, my heart felt full of hope and at the same time as if it were breaking into tiny pieces.
In the weeks leading up to this big moment, her little life seemed to flash before my eyes. I remembered how I used to sit outside while she toddled up and down the sidewalk watering plants. I remembered picnics on the floor of her room. I remembered sitting next to her bed at nap time praying that she would fall asleep. I remembered the little Mommy and Me classes we used to attend, just the two of us. I remembered the way she would sit and read to herself for what seemed like hours and the way she put her loveys to bed all over the house carefully covering them with blankets. I remembered long walks in her pink car and lunch dates downtown with Daddy. I remembered watching her fall in love with her brothers. I remembered her eagerness to help and how so many days I would wonder how I could ever do it without her.
Suddenly, a new season had begun, and a new journey was upon us. It was time to let go. If I am being honest, it was so much harder than I expected. I can’t remember the last time I cried that much. I realized that for me it felt like a loss, the loss of this precious little thing by my side everyday. Yes, she had been to preschool but this was different. Her teacher would now spend more time with her than I would, and in a way I needed to grieve that. I was excited for her, hopeful for her, and proud of who she was and how much she had learned. At the same time, my heart was heavy, for it had all gone so fast despite my best efforts to be present and to hold on tightly. Time is a thief, and those days were magical.
I’ve been on the other side of this journey back when I was teaching. I welcomed those little people into my class while their parents, as I now know too well, stood in the hallway desperately trying to keep it together until they got into the car. On the first day of school I jokingly said to M’s preschool teacher, “Where are all the texts and pictures from her teacher letting me know how the day is going?!” They, of course, would not come. Nor should they. Her teacher was doing her job by being fully present with her students, and I knew that and was grateful for it. Letting go was still hard.
By the 3rd day of school, I dropped M off without crying which felt like a HUGE success. To be clear, she’s done much better than I have as is usually the case with these resilient and brave little beings. I know as time passes my heart will be warmed by the kindergarten light she brings home every day. I will get used to my place which is no longer front and center but more like waiting in the wings. I will stay hopeful and prayerful. And I will always, always be counting the minutes until it’s time to pick her up.
Find the joy~
Jessica McCauley, M.Ed. is a parenting coach/consultant. She draws on her background as a Montessori educator and Child Life Specialist to help families navigate the challenges of the early childhood years. Contact Jessica at http://smallhandsbigsteps.com/contact/ for more information or to schedule a consultation.