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The local elementary school is perched atop an obnoxious hill. It is customary for kindergarten parents to walk their children to the top of the hill as the rest of the grades, first through fifth, having earned their badge of capability and courage, walk alone. Car line is off-limits for kindergartners, which means it’s a walk in whatever weather, whenever school is in session type of vibe.

My oldest misses car line. I miss it as well. It’s so simple, convenient, and most importantly, warm and waterproof. But my youngest is a kindergartner, so for the last several months we’ve trekked up that hill together and started our day abiding in tradition, and when she’s willing to participate, a morning talk.

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But a month ago, she pulled the rank of a child who walked before her time, literally and figuratively, a true classic second child mood of “move over, I’ve got this,” and said to me, “Mom, you stay at the bottom, and I’ll walk up alone.” I felt my heart do the thing it’s done before in unexpected milestone moments, which is to burst open and pour out into palpable pain and pride. Oh, pain and pride. The two are welded together in this mothering thing I do, but I’ve come to respect and savor the sincere appearance of them as their presence generally represents a nod from God saying, “You’re good. Let them grow.”

I suppose a mother’s position is at the bottom of the hill. We get to model for them and then witness their ascent into the world, climbing, sometimes falling, but always rising, to try something new, go someplace different, and embrace whatever adventures await.

RELATED: Once You Start Kindergarten, You’ll Be a Little Less Mine

I watched my girl walk up, happily greeting friends who were strangers just mere months ago. I heard her laugh, signaling the joy and love she now associates with school. I saw her hold out her hand, helping someone else climb the stairs. Now confident in sharing her strengths with others. Sometimes we think about the view from the top of a hill looking down as the most majestic and grand, but I’d argue the view from the bottom of the hill is just as beautiful and breathtaking.

For Kathleen, whose son also left her at the bottom of the hill. Here’s a nod from God, “You’re good. Let him grow.” P.S. Good job, mama. 

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Katie Zurich

Katie Zurich is a teacher, writer, and content creator who lives in New Jersey. Originally from Buffalo, NY, she's a coffee lover and storyteller. 

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