First day of school outfit – check, backpack ready – check, lunchbox packed – check, tears held back until I leave my baby for the first time….check.
Eden started kindergarten three weeks ago and, although we both have transitioned into our new life and schedule just fine, that first day was probably one of the toughest days to date for me. I put a smile on my face as I got her up for her first day of school. She was grinning from ear to ear and I was so excited for her, but the moment was bittersweet for me. Daddy got up and cooked a great egg breakfast and she ate it all like a champ. After dressing her in the outfit her grandma and I picked out and pulling her beautiful locks up into a perfect bun, I sat back and stared at her thinking, “where the hell has the time gone?!” and tears began to fill my eyes. I quickly had to hide those but, honestly, it was just yesterday that I gave birth, right? Wasn’t I just nursing you, rocking you and teaching you how to crawl, walk, eat and speak?
We left early that morning so we could take lots of pictures once we got to school. We took a handful before Mrs. Johnson opened her door, and we all lined up with the kindergartners and their parents. Looking around the room I saw the same thing: moms and dads showing excitement for their children but masked in bittersweet smiles. I felt relief that I wasn’t alone; that these people that I might get to know soon felt the same way I did.
Eden waltzed right up to her teacher, gave her a big front-toothless smile, and was pinned with a name badge. We walked her to her tiny table and tiny chair. Looking down at the furniture reminded me that they are still small. That gave me some condolence. We walked around her classroom pointing out certain things to her and even meeting Mr.Turtle, the class pet. I sat down watching her color her first-day-of-class picture. I knew that my time, this moment in her life of observing her in her first classroom, will soon be over and I’ll have to walk out those doors.
Saying goodbye was easy for Eden. She kissed us goodbye and turned back to her new friend and began chatting once more about shows they can and can not watch on Cartoon Network. She had no tears. I was proud of her. Other kids held on to their parents legs as crocodile tears streamed down their faces, and my big girl hugged and kissed us off like a boss!
Once gone and out of her presence I released my own tears. Mom isn’t as brave as the five year old! I cried all the way back to the car as my husband rubbed my back telling me it will be ok. For so long it’s just been Eden and I. I stayed home with her always. She never went to pre-school or any kind of daycare. So kindergarten was a BIG deal for her, but what I’m realizing is it also wasn’t a big deal for her…emotionally. It was easy. She was ready. It was BIG deal for me. I wasn’t ready emotionally. But then again, when as parents are we ever ready?
I talked to my mom later that night and I finally understood how hard it was for her when we grew up. I am the baby in the family, now in my thirties. She has watched all four of her children grow into adulthood. In that moment I decided I will make every first a big deal. I will take a zillion pictures and I will make them momentous occasions. One day when I’m the grandmother looking back and Eden is taking her child to kindergarten, I will feel that tinge of sentiment as I reminisce about her first day of school. But I will have pictures, blog posts and memories of these momentous occasions to get me through the tears.
“Dear Mom, You get mad at me for not acting my age, and then start crying because I’m ‘growing up too fast.’ Sincerely, pick one!”