Last night I buzzed around the house labeling and packing and organizing and picking out clothes. I fretted. I worried. I hoped.
I thought about the past 4 years and looked ahead to the next 14.
I remembered the car ride home from the hospital and how that was just yesterday, wasn’t it? I looked to the future that seems so far away but which I know will be here in no time.
And then this morning, we woke our baby boy who calls himself a big kid, dressed him, kissed him, and I took him to pre-K.
He wanted to tell his new friends all about his favorite toys. He wanted to see the things inside his classroom. The maps and toys and books and blocks and games.
He was nervous and anxious while we waited in the lobby to go back to his classroom, tucking himself into a corner and then grabbing onto me for safety.
He wiped his tears on the back of my hand and when I realized what he was doing, I had to fight back tears of my own.
We walked to his room and hung up his bag and he begged me not to leave him. I squatted down and reassured him that I loved him. That he would have fun. That everything would be okay. Then I turned him over to one of his teachers and left.
By the time I made it out of the room, he had already stopped crying.
It’s hard to have the sound of his voice as he cries and tells me he wants to stay with me ringing in my ears. My heart wants to protect him. Always.
But my heart also wants him to thrive and learn and explore. To make new friends. To find out just what, exactly, he loves to do and then do that. And sometimes we have to get really uncomfortable before we find out what we’re capable of accomplishing.
I love him enough to know that I have to let him grow up. Even if it’s hard for both of us.
This morning was the first of many more first days of school. They’ll get easier and also harder. Eventually, he won’t cry, I hope, but every first day that ticks away is one less first day that I have with him, my pioneer child.
Joshua–4 years old
(The promise of 1 Oreo and 3 Angry Bird gummies and this is the best he could do for a photo. So typical.)