Today, as we strolled through the aisles of Target, we approached the school supply section, your face lit up, and you pulled my hand eagerly towards the brightly colored displays.
You made a beeline for the lunchboxes because you’ve told me every day for the last two years how excited you were to eat lunch in the cafeteria, with your friends, when you got to kindergarten. And baby, you have no idea how much I’ve been looking forward to packing your lunch every day, complete with a napkin note, just like your nana used to do for me.
You looked up at me and said, “Mommy, can I pick out a lunchbox even though I will be eating lunch at home?”
As you wandered down the aisle looking at all the choices, I stood back and felt the weariness press down upon my shoulders. My throat felt thick as I tried my best to swallow down the tears.
You see, you won’t be eating lunch in the cafeteria with your friends.
You won’t be putting on that first day of school outfit, complete with the oversized backpack monogrammed with your initials in green because it’s your favorite color.
We won’t be walking into your new school together, and entering your classroom to find your desk fashioned with a shiny new name tag.
You won’t get to hug your teacher or high five your friends, and I won’t get to kiss you softly upon your cheek as you let go of my hand and walk away, ready to take on the world.
Everything has changed.
Everything is different.
Everything I envisioned for your first day of school has completely been flipped upside down and turned inside out.
Everything is broken and backward and my heart is hurting that this right of passage has been taken away from you.
Your daddy and I had to make decisions.
Decisions that we agonized over for weeks, and decisions that we never in a million years dreamed we’d have to make.
I wish I could tell you we made the right decision, but I honestly don’t think there is one. Nobody knows what the future will hold, and all we can do is hope and pray that we made the best decision for our family.
You will be starting your first year of school at home, with me.
It’s not what we had planned, but it’s God’s plan, and I have to trust that it’s the best plan right now.
Your classroom will be virtual, and even though you can’t physically hug your new teacher, I know she will be there for you every single day. I know she’ll make this experience one that you’ll remember forever.
You might not have a backpack, but you’ll have your own special space that I will decorate and make yours. Complete with shiny new pencils, crayons, and notebooks.
We’ll still put on a new outfit, and I’ll still take a million pictures of you with a sign that lets everyone know this is your first day of school.
And you know what, baby? We’re going to take home that Harry Potter lunch box you picked out.
I’m going to pack you a lunch every day anyway, complete with a napkin note, just like your nana used to do for me.
Because I realized something so incredibly important today as I watched you browse those brightly colored displays of pencil cases and binders.
It’s going to be OK. Everything is going to be OK.
Sure, things aren’t how we imagined. Sure, this isn’t what we planned. Sure, we have no clue how hard it’s going to be to juggle all the things every day.
But you know what? I’m going to make the best of it, and give you the best kindergarten year I can.
I can’t promise that we won’t have bad days, and I can’t promise that we won’t regret this choice from time to time, but I can promise you that you will be safe and you will be loved.
You will learn, and grow, and be challenged. You will play and you will have fun. We will laugh, and we will celebrate every accomplishment and do all the things kindergarteners are supposed to do.
Today, as we strolled through the aisles of Target, I realized that as defeated and broken as I’ve felt these past few weeks, you’ve always just been an excited little boy, looking forward to your first year of school.
And as your mama, I’m going to make sure this year is one that lives up to every bit of that excitement.
Because you are so ready to take on the world.
Brand new lunchbox and all.