“Be brave,” I chanted to myself. “Be brave. Be brave. Be brave. You can do this.”
All morning while getting dressed and herding the family out the door, I encouraged myself to hang in there and hold back the tears. I knew it wouldn’t be easy. I understood that what I was about to do was one of the most monumental steps in this child’s Life up to this point. Regardless of how I felt about it, I couldn’t keep her all to myself anymore. I had to share her with the world.
So I took Sarah to kindergarten and walked away without an ugly kicking and screaming incident.
It wasn’t her kicking and screaming I was worried about, of course. It was my own. It was my tears and determination to stop time that was the threat.
She marched down the hall like a trooper waving her grin like a victory flag for all to see. She found her chair and sat right down. I thought I sensed a little hesitation at one point, but that might’ve just been wishful thinking on my part.
I kept my brave face while we were in the classroom with her, but as soon as we walked into the hall, the tears caught up with me.
Thanks to having Randall and Aubrey there, too, I didn’t bawl like a baby. I didn’t want Aubrey to think something was wrong, especially since she will go to that school, too, in a couple of years. And I couldn’t be too sad with Randall there because he wasn’t sad at all. In fact, he was beaming with pride to the point I thought his feet might not even be touching the floor as he walked back to the car. He was a walking-tall Daddy whose daughter had been uncharacteristically brave and had faced a challenge without hesitation.
Of course, he was beaming. I should’ve been, too. But I couldn’t help it.
The tears won.
The “be brave” chant faded into tearful thoughts of her growing up and not needing me as much anymore, of her meeting new people I didn’t know and of her experiencing things that would have nothing to do with me or my desire to be an involved, hands-on Mommy.
Who am I kidding, I thought. I haven’t been “Mommy” to her in a long time. Now, it’s “Mama,” and pretty soon she’ll just call me “Mom.”
What happened to the days of her milk-moustached face and her diapered little tootie toddling across the floor to me with her arms in the air for me to pick her up and love her?
Where is the needy little girl who couldn’t go to sleep without her hands in my hair?
How did we go from the first day of day care to the first day of kindergarten in the blink of an eye?
When did my sweet baby turn into such an independent girl?
I thought of her off and on throughout the day but had an unexpected sense of peace about her being there. My agony was more related to my baby’s growing up than to the change in school, but I knew she was having a good time and meeting new people, which made it a little easier to choke back the tears.
When I picked her up, I asked how her day was.
“Good,” she replied.
Good could mean so many things, I thought.
“Was it good or was it very good?”
“It was super, awesome, perfect, wonderful good.”
Sweet relief. My child survived, and so did I.
Now, if we can just get through day two.