I have a kindergartner. I knew it was coming. Not only is it the natural progression of growing up, but also our family had been talking about it and planning for it. We were prepared. Until I wasn’t.
It hit me the night before my son’s first day, when the new backpack was packed, the outfit was picked out, the shiny new school shoes lined up. Suddenly I found myself unable to control the tears as I stood washing dishes at the kitchen sink. Kindergarten? All day? Already?
How would we manage the early morning alarm when my son so enjoyed lazy mornings hanging out? How would it be not having him around in the afternoon, asking for me to build Legos or play a game or set up materials for an art project? Some days his incessant questions were too much, but now I found myself wondering if I’d miss them.
But here’s the thing: I knew he was ready. Yes, he was a little nervous and a little scared— that’s only to be expected— but he was also excited. He needed the new challenge. He needed to meet new friends, learn new things and be engaged in the school environment. Mentally and emotionally, he was ready and I know he will be fine. In fact, I know he’s going to soar. I just needed to be ready to let him.
Isn’t that where the push/pull of parenting happens? We want our kids to do well, we want to set them free to learn and discover and be independent, but we also want to hold onto them, keep them safe and protected and forever ours. I know this is just beginning, too, that push/pull of letting go while still holding on. After all, my son is only 6.
The morning of the first day the whole family walked him to the bus stop. I kissed and hugged him a hundred times, I’m sure, as a lump rose in my throat when we saw the yellow bus pull onto the street. Thankfully he didn’t know any better yet and let me give him one last kiss and hug as the bus doors opened. The driver waited. Students already on the bus looked out the window at a mom whose voice cracked as I waved good luck. He climbed the steps and picked his seat like a champ. He looked so little in those big seats, but he also looked so happy. He waved. The doors closed and off he went. I cried on the walk home.
And then, when the afternoon rolled around and it was time to get him off the bus, he ran off that big yellow vehicle with a huge smile and arms outstretched.
“How was your day?” I asked.
“It was GREAT!” he said excitedly.
And just like that, I knew it was all going to be okay. He was ready. And finally, I was, too.