Today is a monumental day for us. Charli started kindergarten this morning! Preparing for this day has felt like preparing for a rocket launching or something. I mean, Jesus take the wheel. I was so afraid that she would be nervous. I was afraid she might cry, that I might cry, that she wouldn't want me to leave her there...that I wouldn't want to leave her there. But she never ceases to amaze me, inspire me. She was filled with excitement and confidence as she walked into her elementary school. I took hundreds of pictures and helped her put away her lunch box and snack, hang up her book bag and helped her find her seat. She put on her name tag and got right to work on coloring a picture. My husband and I just marveled at her working away, like she was this little masterpiece. And she is. To us, she is. And as we marveled, she looked up from her desk and said, "OK guys, go home now. I'll see you after school. I'll be fine!"
Of course she will be fine. After dreaming of her, hoping and praying for her for 6 years as we struggled through infertility, we were finally blessed with her. I made the decision to leave my teaching job as a middle school math teacher and be her mommy full time because after all, I just didn't want to miss this. I almost didn't get to do this. And for the last 5 years, I have been by her side every single day. I began teaching at her preschool when she turned 2 and last year she was in my class. As her Pre-K teacher, I got to see her in action as she learned all her letters, numbers, sight words, and began writing her name. I taught her how to hold her pencil and helped her navigate friendships. I watched her present her Show-and-Tell and guided her as she read her first book aloud. I watched as she began to make sense of basic math concepts and saw her play her heart out on the playground each day. Being her teacher was one of the greatest gifts I've been given; but being her mommy...Well. That's been everything.
She is our little angel, our masterpiece, our hope. BUT... I realize of course that she is not "ours" to keep. And she won't be little forever. Our job as parents is to prepare her to spread her wings. To teach and demonstrate kindness and bravery. To encourage her to pick herself back up when she falls, to show her that life isn't always easy, perfect, or fair; but she can do hard things. As we stand with all the other parents, I am keenly aware that we look like every other parent in the room and our daughter looks just like every other kid. But in my heart, I know we are the lucky ones because we almost missed this. If not for God's grace, I would be childless. I also know that we won't ever do this again. Every first is also a last, but these things are not about "us." They are about her. And as I watch her walk ahead of me into her classroom I have to catch my breath. I'm in awe of her confidence and just so...proud of her. Her confidence gives me confidence and when I finally walked out of there holding my husband's arm, I didn't bawl my eyes out. I exhaled a giant sigh of relief because she is going to be OK. She is going to be GREAT. SHE is ready.
As we walked down the path behind the school back toward our house, I thought of how fast the time has flown. I blinked and she went from her highchair to Kindergarten.
So my advice to all of you mommies out there wrangling your toddlers as they tantrum through a diaper change and throw their sippy cups off the tray of the highchair for the millionth time; Try not to wish you could fast forward through it all. Take time to enjoy their littleness because it just doesn't last forever. Soon enough they will be walking ahead of you with a confidence that reminds you to be brave.
She's got this. And I will adjust to that too. Just give me a minute to finishing scrolling through her baby pictures one more time with a few tears of happiness and pride streaming down my face. I will be fine. And then... I will be first in line for carpool this afternoon.