You were so excited tonight that I wondered if you would ever settle down enough to fall asleep. As you laid out your new outfit and triple-checked your backpack, you wondered aloud what tomorrow would bring.
Will I make a new friend?
Will I be brave enough to reach the top of the climbing wall at recess?
Will they give me a snack, or should I bring my own just in case?
Will my teacher remember my name?
“I think I’ll be a little nervous, Mom, but I’ll be fine,” you assured me. Somehow you always know the worries on my heart without me saying a word.
I told you it was really time to go to sleep then, and I rubbed your back while I sang your song—the same one I’ve been singing to you since we brought you home from the hospital almost six years ago.
You finally drifted off, but I stayed with you and held your hand a few extra minutes. My heart needed to soak in the last bedtime before everything changes.
Now, you’re sleeping peacefully in your bed and I’m here tossing and turning in my own.
What was a dull ache in my chest through dinner and teeth brushing and book reading now sits like an elephant on my heart, and I only just now realized what it is that I’m feeling:
I miss you.
Yes, even though we share the same roof over our heads.
Yes, even though I’ll see you tomorrow and the next day and the day after that.
Yes, even though we have 13 more years of this raising you journey ahead.
Even still, I miss you.
Tomorrow you’ll start kindergarten, and I can’t help but feel like this beginning is the end of the chapter we’ve been writing for the past five years.
We’re crossing the threshold into Big Kid Land, and I’m not sure if I’m ready.
Starting tomorrow, the majority of our days will no longer be spent together.
Thirty-two isn’t really a big number. Not when we’re talking about 32 seconds in the microwave, or a 32-minute car ride, or even 32 birthdays on this earth. But somehow, 32 feels like an eternity when I think about how many hours each week we’ll be apart.
I won’t come downstairs in the mornings to find you curled up on the couch with cartoons and a cup of chocolate milk.
You won’t run to find me throughout the day to tell me a random fact or show me the creation you made.
Gone will be the slow days of no real schedule and no place to be. Instead, I’ll sit at home wondering what you’re doing and looking forward to 4:00 when you can tell me everything about your day.
Kindergarten is the start of the long (but somehow not long enough) school years stretched out before us. As each one passes by, you’ll spend less time with me and more time becoming you. And then you’ll be gone—a whole phone call away as you go live your life.
That’s the way it should be, but it hurts a little bit, too.
Oh, Mom, stop being dramatic, you’ll probably say if you happen to read this 10 years from now.
But I can’t help it. You were my baby just yesterday.
Tomorrow morning when I drop you off at school, I’ll put on a brave face and kiss you goodbye.
“I’ll miss you,” I’ll say, and you’ll assume I mean for the next eight hours.
But between you and me and these words you may or may not ever read, what I really mean is this:
I miss the you I brought home from the hospital, in the early days when I was terrified and unsure but so very in love.
I miss the you who wore green dinosaur boots on the wrong feet every day until you outgrew them.
I miss the you who used to climb into bed beside me in the earliest hours of the morning.
I miss the you who spent nearly every day of the last five plus years with me.
And I’ll miss the pre-kindergarten you who is asleep just 20 feet away from me now, dreaming about the big kid playground and your new backpack.
Tonight I already miss you, but I also know this:
The new you, the kindergarten you, the oldest-I’ve-ever-seen-you you, who I’ll meet tomorrow when you awake on the first day of school—he’s going to be something really, really special, too.
And I already know I’m going to love him more than I could ever imagine.