My Sweet, Practically-A-First-Grader,
On your first day of kindergarten, I was awash in conflicting emotions. I was excited for you to move into the next phase of your life and worried that you would be hurt or sad when I wasn’t there to comfort you. I missed you terribly, but was giddy at the prospect of time to work on projects and articles that I had been putting off all summer. I was proud of you, and all that you’ve become, while reminiscing about the baby you once were.
The truth is that kindergarten was both better and worse than I could have imagined. You’ve been hurt and excluded, but it’s made you kinder and more resilient. You’ve overcome frustrations and disappointments with grace and humor. You’ve danced, laughed, and made friends. You’ve been a dedicated student, so much that your teacher’s aid said she’d never even seen your silly side (a complete surprise to me, since that’s the only side I seem to see!) You’ve shown respect to your teachers, your classmates, and yourself.
You’ve learned to read and tie your shoes during kindergarten. You know more than I do about leaves and zones of the ocean. You’ve navigated the world without me, and I am so proud of the way you have shown kindness, empathy, and compassion at every turn. I expected no less from you, sweet girl, but I am so, so glad that you have taken what I’ve taught you to heart.
I still feel as though I might blink and you’ll be off to college, but I’ve also learned to marvel at the smaller transitions that each school day brings. Each day, I have looked forward to hearing all about what you did at school and telling you about my day without you. Most days were “great,” and a few were just “so-so,” but you always found something beautiful or exciting to tell me. You have faced your fears and conquered them, and you have been a joyful presence in the lives of so many who were strangers not even a year ago.
At night, while I watch you dream, I can still see the baby you were, but during the day she’s a bit harder to recognize in your changing face and smile. One day, she’ll be gone completely, replaced by the face of a woman. For now, I’m trying to savor the moments when the baby is just beneath the surface of the smooth curves of your cheekbones.
On your first day of kindergarten, I sent you off with a blessing, so perhaps on your last day I should give you a benediction for this year and all it has given to you and to us.
You have found friendships that sustain you;
Teachers who see you;
Knowledge that nourishes you;
Passions that serve you;
Books that shelter you;
Pain that soon leaves you;
And, at the end of each day, you have found your way
Home to the place where you are our joy.
Now, until the bus arrives to carry you to first grade,
Let’s soak up the sun, fun, and family time!
I love you, Mama