Today marks the first day of kindergarten for my very first little labor of love, Lucia. Wasn’t I just inhaling her sweet, intoxicating little newborn head yesterday? Warning: momentous milestones involving my kids make me nostalgic. I also have a tendency to speak (and write) in clichés. I could come up with a hundred of them for such an occasion, but I’ll spare you my boring rhetoric (okay, there may be a few in here).
I put on a brave face and together with my husband and son, we walk Lucia to her classroom. I will myself to be calm and collected. I smile nicely at her teacher, Maestra Ana, and introduce my daughter to the woman she’ll be spending the majority of her days with (and with whom also shares the name of her favorite character from an animated film-Frozen, ugh!). Ana is warm and kind and holds a special place in heaven for voluntarily signing-up to herd a bunch of wild, independent cats. I kiss Lucia goodbye reassuringly and she gives us one last lingering look before joining circle time. And just like that, my baby is in kindergarten.
But here’s how I really felt: like I was throwing her to the wolves. I wanted to tell her that the whole year would be filled with metaphorical rainbows and ponies. That I would be there for her anytime she was lost or hurt. I wanted to stand on top of those tiny desks and warn her classmates that if anyone wrongs her, I will make it my personal mission in life to ban them from Chuck E Cheese permanently. But much to my chagrin, I am well aware that this type of behavior will only make me the school-mom pariah that people half-smile nervously around.
I know I’m not the first overly sentimental mom to send their first born to school. It’s what most of us parents do and I believe strongly in the institution of education. Besides, if I kept my two kids home all day long there might be some permanent damage to both the house and their very impressionable psyches. Lucia spent three years in preschool and is ready both socially and academically for kindergarten. But, somehow this feels bigger, more committed and mandatory. It’s the start of something new and another glaring reminder to let go yet a little bit more.
Parenting is a funny thing. We bring these little people into the world entirely dependent on us. The shear weight of being responsible for another life was overwhelming for me at first. I felt like I’d be walking my screaming newborn up and down the hallway for the next eighteen years. Yet as my kids get older, I find myself desperately wanting to preserve small moments, linger a little longer, and hold them a little tighter.
Watching time chip away at your children’s innocence is not easy, but watching these tiny humans slowly come into their own is magical.