We’ve known for five years this day was coming. Why, then, does it seem so soon?
This morning our daughter boarded a bus for her first day of kindergarten, and while my mother reminded me that I was not the first mother to ever send her child to kindergarten, it’s been a day I half dreaded, half anticipated.
After all, for the last five years, we’ve spent the days together her and I (and later her brother). I’ve learned how to take care of her every need. I’ve answered every question (sometimes with a “just because”). I’ve been around to hear the crazy, funny, profound things that come out of her 5-year-old mouth.
So, today, it’s hard. Because she gets to spend her days with someone else. And I get to start letting go.
Because being independent is something else she needs to learn. And she can’t do that if I’m hovering all the time. (Also, I’m pretty sure I’d go bonkers if I tried to teach her to read or do math.)
But I feel it already, the absence of her sweet spirit. She brings so much life to our days, and I’m glad we get to share that with other people, but still …
I was reminded this morning of the name we gave her: Isabelle. Consecrated, or set apart, to God. And when you set something apart for God, you lose some control (okay, a lot of it) over what that person or thing is set apart for. For us, this setting apart means letting her go to public school, a decision we’ve wrestled with but have ultimately been at peace with.
She was God’s before she was ours and I believe that means He has her best in mind. He’ll go with her where we can’t. And she’ll be better for it. So will we.
Yesterday, I encountered parents who were sending their oldest off to middle school, and another couple who took their youngest off to college. We were all at different stages and yet our feelings were the same. Fear. Anxiety. Sadness. Loss.
What begins with the first day of kindergarten, it seems, never ends. I still remember the tears my mother shed when we left Illinois for Pennsylvania, even though I was a married woman with a child. I’ve heard it begins the moment our babies are born. We’re always letting them go, little by little.
She will be fine in kindergarten. She will love it, I have no doubts. And she’s in good hands. Last night I was plagued with doubts: Who will meet her at the school to make sure she gets to her classroom? As if these teachers and school staff aren’t professionals who do this every day of the school year. (I have a few of those in my family, but this time, it’s my girl we’re talking about!)
I’ve never looked more forward to the end of a day. I can’t wait to hear the stories she’ll tell.
As we waited for the bus this morning, a woman leaving the gym behind our house stopped to ask if this was the first day of kindergarten. She told us she’d sent three to school and cried every time. She encouraged Izzy with her excitement and she identified with my sorrow. This has been one of the blessings of this transition: Moms who’ve been there, who say it’s okay to cry, who get to the point where they’re sending their kids off with a wave and a smile and getting on with the day.
So, thank you for your encouragement. This is a big day for our family. One of many we’ve had this summer. As we adjust to new schedules, new responsibilities and a new rhythm to our days, we ask for prayer.
And because I can’t do it any other way: I’ll keep you updated on the journey. (Whether you want it or not!)