This isn’t how I thought it was going to be, this starting school thing. 

When I packed your backpack and helped you lay out your clothes the night before your first day, I imagined you thriving on your new adventure. 

I naively thought the first day was going to be the hard part–that there would be some tears from both of us as we stepped into this new chapter, but soon the newness would wear off and we would fall seamlessly into this new routine. 

I thought you’d love kindergarten

I thought I’d love a little more freedom in my schedule. 

You would go about your day and I’d go about mine. When 4 o’clock rolled around each day we would tell each other all about the moments since we last saw each other, and that would be that. 

But here we are a month in, and it seems like everyone around us has settled into the new school year while we still struggle every day.

Mornings are the hardest. The tears begin to fall as soon as you remember it’s a school day. 

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I reassure you as I help you get ready, and I remind you of all the things you can try when you miss me. 

You settle down a bit during the car ride, but when I drop you off at the front door of the school my heart is ripped out all over again. You cling to me, and even though you’re trying to be brave, you can’t hide that little tremble in your chin.

I bend down to hug you with a smile, wipe your tears, and muster the most upbeat voice I can to say something lame like, “Yay, today is show-and-tell day!” or “You’re going to have so much fun playing football at recess!”

It takes everything in me to keep a happy face when I kiss your forehead and wave goodbye–but once I’m out of your sight watching you in the rearview mirror, my tears begin to fall just as quickly as yours did.

Kindergarten under the best of circumstances would have been a little heart-wrenching, but watching you struggle to adjust has been almost unbearable. 

Instead of enjoying the hours between eight and four or using them to be super productive like I imagined, I find myself constantly checking my phone and wondering how you are.

Are you missing me?

Are you staring at the clock wishing the minutes away?

Is someone there to hug you and hold your hand and tell you everything is going to be OK?

The mama bear in me wants to never make you go back, but I know how much you’d miss it. You have wonderful friends and a lovely teacher who care so much about you, and deep down, I know how much you cherish them too.

The start of the school year has been hard on both of us, but we can do this.

I know we can. 

With any luck, each day will get just a little better. There will be a few less tears. A few more excited stories after school. You’ll get more comfortable in your classroom, and I’ll be able to focus on something other than you missing me. 

Things will get easier with time, but until then I’ll snuggle you as hard as I can when you’re with me.

I’ll whisper affirmations in your ear and remind you just how good and smart and kind and brave and incredible you are.

I’ll send text messages to your saint of a teacher as we work together to get you through this rough patch.

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I’ll do my best to validate your feelings, even though sometimes I don’t understand them. 

When you tell me you’re worried, or that you miss me, or that you’re scared, I’ll pull you close.

And I’ll buy you lots and lots of after-school ice cream cones and listen while you tell me all about your day–the good parts and the hard.

We’re in this together–you, me, your wonderful teacher, and so many others who have stepped in to love on you extra when I can’t be there. You have one heck of a team on your side, you know.

I didn’t think it would be this hard, little one, but I know you can do it. 

My love for you is bigger than the kindergarten blues, and I promise to be here with you every step of the way.

Casey Huff

Casey is a middle school teacher turned stay-at-home-mama to three littles. It's her mission as a writer to shine light on the beauty and chaos of life through the lenses of motherhood, marriage, and mental health. To read more, go hang out with Casey at: Facebook: Bouncing Forward Instagram: @bouncing_forward