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In a few days, I’ll hand over the keys to my most valuable commodity: my child.

She’ll march into kindergarten—without me.

She’ll eat lunch, laugh, sing, read stories, and start creating her own.

Without me.

She’ll probably never seem so small and incapable than the day I drop her off.

Is she ready? Did we do enough? Will the wrong people break her incredible spirit?

I don’t know. Because she’ll be doing it without me.

A lot of what we’re about to experience is the unknown. The start of school is a beginning, and beginnings are usually scary until we find our footing. It’s frightening to think of a 5-year-old wandering halls and life on her own. I have first day jitters just thinking about it.

But when it comes time to part ways, there will be no tears from either of us.

And here’s why.

I won’t cry because my fear is my own. The world hasn’t gotten to her yet.

Children are lucky to have youth, and invincibility, and optimism on their side. What a gift to be fearless and a friend to all.

So I will stuff all of my apprehension down deep, because my anxieties aren’t allowed to be hers. She will inevitably bruise as the road bends, and I will be there to bandage her hurt and send her back out.

After all, how will she build resilience if I bubble her?

Neither of us is truly ready for this change, but it’s impossible to cry about it because we never will be. There will never be a day when I have taught her enough. Not at age 5 or 65. My child will always need something from me. I am her mother. The keeper of her history, her most trusted witness. Have I done everything I can to prepare her? No. Never.

But the world will teach her, too.

And so will all the people she’s about to encounter.

I won’t cry because her classroom is filled with a fearless leader. A teacher who has given up time with her own children, her own family, to foster mine. I can’t shed tears when I know she’s with someone so sacrificial and serving. Maybe this is a heavy order to place on a complete stranger—asking her to raise my child as much as I do—but I have to believe we were put together for a reason. So I will blindly trust her, and also trust myself to speak up if things don’t seem to fit.

The halls may be wide, but they’re lined with guardian angels.

She’s fortunate to walk them.

You see, I can’t cry at my daughter starting kindergarten because it just means she’s growing and gaining. And isn’t that what we want for our children? To watch them progress? To make it to that next milestone?

So we can’t worry about them moving forward. Of course it’s bittersweet to count how many Christmases we have left with them in the home, but if we’ve done things even remotely right, we’ll let them go and they’ll still willingly return.

I just want to live long enough to see my baby change the world. And she can’t get there if I don’t let her walk in with all the confidence she deserves.

Kindergarten may seem like a step without me, but that’s never been true.

I am built into her bones.

I will be with her on the first day, as she will be with me on my last.

Children are never alone with a mother’s love.

And there’s no reason to cry about that.

Stephanie Hanrahan

Stephanie Hanrahan is wife to a sick husband, mother to special needs kiddos, and a woman who often unravels then finds her footing again. Learn how she traded her pretending for a panty liner on Instagram, Facebook, and her blog Tinkles Her Pants, where she leaks nothing but the truth.

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