You didn’t turn around and wave at me as you walked into preschool this morning. Not today, on your very last day of school before summer break.

You didn’t even glance over your shoulder for one more look before you went through the doors. Instead you stood tall and strutted your stuff right on up the steps, joking with your teacher as you went. 

And my heart, baby, it swelled.

Your first year of school was nothing like either of us imagined. 

I always planned to be the classroom mom. To volunteer for read-aloud, join you on field trips, bake cookies for class parties. I wanted to be right there with you as you started this journey.

But aside from that one day last summer when I took you to check things out before the first day of school, I wasn’t able to step foot into your classroom. 

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And can I tell you something in hindsight? You did so much better with it all than I expected. It’s not that I didn’t believe in you, it’s just that you were asked to take a really, really big, new step without mommy and daddy there to hold your hand.

But you did it! And you never complained—not even once.

As hard as it was on my heart, I think maybe it was better for you this way. It helped you come into your own more, to find the independence and courage in that special heart of yours. 

On the first day of school last September, you walked through those doors a little timid.

A little curious.

A little nervous. 

I never told you, but I cried that day as we pulled away from the school. My mama heart ached for you. Ached for the passing of time. Ached for your nerves. Ached that I couldn’t walk you in the door and help you find your cubby and table. 

Today, I cried for a different reason. I am just so proud of you. You did it, baby. You started something new—and you rocked it. You have grown so much in so many ways over the last nine months, and I love everything about the person you’re becoming.

Today you walked out with your head held high.

A graduate.

A KINDERGARTENER. 

Be still, my heart.

You experienced so many firsts this year, but would you believe me if I told you the whole world is still out there waiting for you?

As the years go by, you will laugh.

Cry.

Work hard.

Feel burnt out.

Find your voice.

Make mistakes.

Trust your gut.

Question yourself.

Make bold choices.

Move mountains.

Through it all, I just pray you never lose the little spark of magic you have inside of you now. The one that makes you so uniquely YOU. The one that makes you such a gift to the world.

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What a joy it is to be your mommy. To watch you grow.

You’re a big kid, ready to take on the summer and the rest of your life.

And me? I’m the proud mama who will always be there cheering you on.

Between you and me, no matter how old you get, I think I’ll always see you like this—bright eyes, unjaded smile, with a Dino backpack slung over your shoulders ready for the next adventure.

I love you forever and always. 

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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