To all the other mamas struggling with saying goodbye on the first day of Kindergarten, this is for you. I’ve been writing this for weeks now, thinking my feelings would change or I’d become more excited for my children’s journey into school, but I’m plain ‘ol sad and feeling a little heartbroken and anxious. This is a letter to my sweet son as he embarks on this journey, and then at the end (if you want to skip this and scroll straight to the tips), there are a handful of key tips to help you ease into the school year and feel less emotional and anxious.
Oh, my sweet boy, where has the time flown?
You’re heading off to Kindergarten next week. It knocked me back as I was flipping through the next page of our calendar. I can count the number of days we have left on one hand.
I’m not ready. This mama is not ready to let you go. Because this is what it feels like…. Like, I’m letting you go.
I remember the day we brought you home from the hospital. I set your car seat down on the hardwood floor and stared down in wonderment as you slept. I vowed to always take care of you and be a good Mama.
Our days together will consist of a few hours in the afternoon and evenings. My heart breaks because it doesn’t seem like it’ll ever be enough ever again.
You needed me so much those first few years. I was your everything, and you are still mine.
Over time you’ve begun to spread your wings, as children do. You’re pushing away more each year and I can feel it as much as I see it. I’m proud of you, but at the same time, want to pump the brakes on this business of going to school.
The invisible string that connects you and I is longer and thinner that it was when you were younger.
You’ve been pushing for more independence and to be your own person. I want to let you beat to your own drum and grow into the boy you so fumble to be, but it means stepping back. And that’s hard for me.
I watched you last week fall off your bike and then brush the dirt from your pants and shout, “I’m ok.” I saw for the first time how big you’ve become. I’m not the first person your eyes scan for and you don’t run into my arms for comfort any longer.
I know it’s my job to help you prepare for life but life has not prepared me for this moment of saying goodbye.
I’ve given you space to grow but there is something about Kindergarten, it feels like a giant leap forwards. It feels like the end to you and I, and to your childhood.
It feels like I’m letting the string out on a kite more and more, and you’re flying further away with each new breeze.
You’re going to change even more this year and I’m scared of what this might mean for me, although I am excited for you.
I’m scared you’ll need me less.
I’m scared you’re growing up and I’m growing old too fast.
I’m scared I lost my temper and patience too many times to count and now this will be all you remember of me.
I’m scared I didn’t say yes enough to counterbalance all the times I said No.
I’m scared I didn’t hug you enough and rushed bedtimes too many nights.
I’m scared I worked too much and you caught me looking at my phone too often.
I see all my mistakes now and I want to fix them all, but there isn’t time.
We’re on the cusp of a new beginning, you and I.
The last morning strolls around the neighborhood will be here soon. The long snuggles in bed and the ease of waking without an alarm clock will disappear.
There will never be enough to make things right, for all the times I did wrong, only time for the present and future.
I want to shout to the universe, “Stop growing so fast! Stop moving away from me so fast!” This mama’s heart can’t take the push and pull so much.
I’m stuck in a parallax of loving the person you are now, but missing how we used to be before you grew up in the blink of an eye. This is life. It never moves backwards, only forward and it’s steamrolling me right now. It is sweet and sour and joyous and painful all layered together.
No one told me motherhood would be this weird mix of joy and pain, and happiness and heartache. I never imagined the pain I would feel watching you grow up and grow away.
When I say goodbye to you and watch as you walk down the hallway next week, I’ll think of you for the next seven hour. I’ll wonder how you are and if you’re OK. Are you making friends, has someone been mean to you, if you ate enough lunch or are hungry?
When the final bell of the day rings, I imagine the tables will turn and I’ll be the one racing to you.
I’m excited for all you’re going to learn. You’re longing to make more friends and break free from the four walls of our home. New adventures await of learning, exploring and scratching that curious itch of yours. You are ready.
It’s me, your Mom who isn’t.
I see now it’s me who is holding on more than you.
We have a couple more days together like this; walking side by side on our morning walks. I tell myself to remember everything about them because soon, I’ll be taking this walk by myself.
This is your journey sweet boy. I’ll always be here holding onto the string if you come a little lower from time to time.
TIPS FOR MAMAS WITH KINDERGARTEN ANXIETY
- Take a deep breathe Mama, it’s all going to be OK.
- Remember, the positive connections you’ve made with your child is what will help you successfully separate for a few hours each day and then come together again when school is out.
- Letting your child go is part of a healthy growing process, staying too attached isn’t exactly healthy for them or you. Parenting is a long journey of teaching and guiding and sending your child off to school is just one more part of letting them go and take flight on their own.
- Think of all the positives that can go right for your child – learning, making friends, building confidence, finding new strengths and maturity are a few examples.
- Dream up all the things you gain when your child goes off to school. This may be more time for you to pursue your own passions, start back up at the gym, grab a cup of coffee with friends or have quality time with your other children.
- Be present with your children – put away distractions and use the time you have with them to soak in the moments.
- Get to know your child’s teacher how you stay involved behind the scenes. Ask about volunteering at the school, in the classroom or on field trips.