The First and Last Days of Kindergarten

September 6, 2016

I told myself I wasn’t going to cry.

I set out his backpack, packed his lunch and made sure his school supplies were all in order.

I gave the boys baths, laid out their pajamas and helped them brush their teeth.

They snuggled up on my lap while I pulled out a book I’d tucked away just for this occasion: “The Night Before Kindergarten” by Natasha Wing. Jacob’s wonderful pre-k teacher had given it to him as a gift on the last day of school, and I’d been holding onto it ever since. To be honest, it’s a miracle I remembered we had it.

I tucked the boys into their beds, sang a couple rounds of their favorite lullabies (a few silly songs, a few oldies-but-goodies, a few hymns), and then I kissed them goodnight.

I was perfectly fine until I found myself staring blankly at my computer screen 30 minutes later, scrolling through emails without really reading any of them. Out of nowhere, my face did this weird crumple thing as though I’d suddenly gotten a Charlie horse in my cheeks, and that was all she wrote.

The next morning, we were late, as usual. We were supposed to meet Jacob’s teacher in the cafeteria before school started, and he was the last one in his class to arrive.

In a rush, I made him stop for an obligatory “First Day of School” photo in front of the building before we went inside. Humoring me, he grinned and gave a thumbs up.

So him.

It didn’t take long to find his teacher. The cafeteria is small, and there were only a handful of Kindergarten classes inside — school had started for the rest of the grades the week before so the younger students wouldn’t be overwhelmed by the crowds on their first day.

After saying a brief hello to his teacher and a few parents I recognized, Jacob gave me a big hug, a kiss and a “bye, Mom,” and off he went.

Also so him.

As my husband and I were walking back to our cars to head our separate ways for the day, we spotted Jacob’s class walking to their room. Quickly, we ducked behind a fence like a couple of outlaws so they wouldn’t see us. They all looked so cute and tiny strutting in line with their oversized backpacks, like baby turtles following their mama to the pond. Jacob was bringing up the rear, his skinny legs moving fast as he fought to keep up. When I saw him, I let out a half-laugh, half-sob, and then the waterworks started all over again.


June 15, 2017

I told myself I wasn’t going to cry.

I set out his backpack, made sure he had enough lunch money and sorted through the papers in his backpack.

I gave the boys baths, laid out their pajamas and helped them brush their teeth.

Jacob snuggled up on my lap while I pulled out a book he’d received just for this occasion: “Barn Storm” by Charles and Debra Ghigna. Jacob’s wonderful kindergarten teacher had given it to him as a gift for the last day of school, and this time — he read to me.

I tucked the boys into their beds, sang a couple rounds of their favorite lullabies (a few silly songs, a few oldies-but-goodies, a few hymns), and then I kissed them goodnight.

I was perfectly fine until I found myself watching a home video of Jacob at 16 months old — all chubby-cheeked and wobbly on baby feet — toddling around the house with his toothbrush. Out of nowhere, my face did this weird crumple thing as though I’d suddenly gotten a Charlie horse in my cheeks, and that was all she wrote.

This has been a great year. He’s grown and learned so much, and, as his mom, I have, too. I can’t believe he’ll be in first grade come August, but I’m doing my best to look forward to new adventures instead of grieving for the baby years that seem to have passed so quickly.

Seasoned mamas, I think I know the answer to this question already, but … do the milestones ever get easier?

Thinking of all of you today as you experience the strange grip of pride, pain, joy and even loss as you walk alongside your child through the little moments of life that feel so big — whether you’re holding your toddler’s hand as he or she takes those first steps, sending your baby off to college, helping plan your first born’s wedding or welcoming a grandchild into the world.

A mom’s job is never done. Let’s be there for one another as we do our best to be there for our children on these special days of firsts and lasts … and the moments in between.

Tweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on FacebookEmail this to someone

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *