Dear Mamas with New Kindergarteners:
It’s time. This date has been circled on the calendar for months. And no matter how much you wished time would slow down, reality stole your summer faster than ever and it is finally here—the first day of kindergarten.
You’ve checked all the boxes on your prep list. You tackled the school supply shopping list like a champ, which to your surprise included NINE glue sticks and TWO bottles of glue. (Seriously. Who needs that much glue? You’re convinced that your child will end up in the school nurse’s office with lips glued together.) You’ve packed their brand new backpack—the one you researched about online to make sure it was the right fit. You’ve picked out the perfect first-day outfit, read “The Night Before Kindergarten” at bedtime and tucked a note into the monogrammed lunchbox. You have prepared them well. But what about you, dear mamas with anxious hearts? How do you prepare your heart for this big change?
When you’re on the verge of something that seems so life-altering, you don’t think of everyday occurrences in simple terms. Rather, everything seems like it becomes “the last time.”
His last day of preschool.
Her last summer before school starts.
His last carefree afternoon before homework rolls in.
Her last bedtime story before she becomes a kindergartener.
KINDERGARTENER. It’s such a big word for your precious little child. And it just makes you want to cry.
Dear mamas with weary souls, I feel your pain. I have cried those same tears. I was in your shoes last year when my oldest daughter started kindergarten. I was so scared for her. I was terrified that the my sweet little girl with a heart of gold would lose her innocence and see the harsh realities that elementary school kids face. Mean girls. Stress. Not making friends. I feared it all.
I know the first day is so hard. But it is ok to cry because you have earned the right to shed those tears. For all the nights you slept in the rocking chair as you tried to soothe your baby back to sleep. For all the band-aids and boo-boo kisses you gave. For all the silly songs you sang. For all the bedtime stories you read. For all the times your shirt soaked up their tears. For all the (million) times you heard your child scream, “MOOOOOOOOOOMMY!” at the exact moment you sat down for the first time all day. You earned those tears. So let them fall, sweet mamas. Lord knows I certainly did.
And when you dry your eyes, you will look at your precious little child and realize they are totally rocking that big word—KINDERGARTENER.
After I had cried all the tears there were to cry, I changed the vantage point from which I would watch her grow. Instead of viewing everything as “the last time”, I started experiencing so many of her firsts.
The first time she wrote a complete sentence.
The first time she read a book to her sister.
The first school project.
The first field trip.
The first time she came home talking about all the cool things she learned in school, like the solar system, Antartica, oxygen and carbon dioxide.
The first time she corrected my grammar.
The first time she outsmarted her daddy.
Dear mamas with tear-filled eyes, if you think you are proud of your child now, JUST WAIT. Wait until she reads six chapter books in one summer. Wait until he teaches you about addition and subtraction. Wait until she tells you about how she helped another kid in her class who was having a hard time learning to read. Wait until he can read all 100 sight words. Wait until she decides to donate some of her books to her former class for the newest batch of kindergarteners to enjoy.
Watching my daughter soar through her first year of elementary school made me see this whole growing-up thing in a different light. So I decided that instead of being sad that my girls finished another year of school, I’ll be thankful for all that they’ve learned. Instead of wishing time would slow down, I’ll be thankful for every day I get to watch them grow. Instead of being sad that they’re becoming more independent, I’ll be thankful that the bond they share grows stronger every day.
From her first day of kindergarten to her last, every minute of the school year gave me a chance to marvel at the magic of a growing child’s mind. My girl went from not being able to read a single word to being able to finish an entire chapter book in one day. Hearing her talk about all the things she learned in school was so rewarding! And even though she was exposed to some of the realities that elementary school kids face, she is still true to herself. I am no longer afraid for her to grow up. Instead, I am thankful that I get to watch her thrive!
So hang in there, dear mamas with new kindergarteners. I know this season is so tough on you. But just wait. You will be so amazed! And until then, may your heart be as strong as your coffee.