Now it’s Your Turn

Now it’s your turn to start school. I had two years to prepare for this day, telling myself this time would be easier than when your sister entered those kindergarten doors. I realized this past week that there was a great secret I never realized, it’s harder to send the second child. I thought for sure it would be easier. I had already done this once, so I know what to expect. That’s exactly why it’s so hard – I know what to expect. It’s harder this time because I know just how much I’m going to miss you each and every morning until I see you in the afternoon as we head to dance or soccer. It’s harder because I know your days will get busier and this is only the beginning of just how busy you’ll be.

There’s a toy kitchen that will now sit quietly in your room. For almost every day of your life, I have heard the toy kitchen fridge door open and shut. I have heard your shopping cart wheel up and down the hallway, hauling toy groceries and dolls and random things you decide to stuff in that cart. I have heard your footsteps run up and down that hallway thousands of times.

I thought for sure you would be my baby, the one who would have my undivided while your big sister was away at school. God wrote a different plan and you suddenly became a middle child. You’ve had to share this past year of your life and you didn’t complain once about it. You became a pro big sister over night because you learned from the best. You are a perfect match for your birth order. You march to your own beat because you don’t have the time or interest to wonder what others might think. Your outfits amaze me every day and you wear them with all the confidence a girl could have. I often think to myself that I hope to be like you when I grow up. How can someone so small be so brave and so independent. This independence will serve you well in life.  My heart isn’t ready for this change, but you were fist pumping on your way to buy school supplies. I watched you big sister grab your hand at open house and march you down to the kindergarten wing. You smiled a huge smile as she showed you where you hang your backpack and where you sharpen your pencil. You are ready, my sweet girl. You are so ready.

It’s time for me to accept that there’s a long list of things we didn’t yet finish. There’s no more days where time doesn’t matter until next May. I know exactly how hard it is to pack a summer into summer. There’s no more after preschool lunch dates at a place of your choosing. We didn’t have enough days at the pool, and we didn’t master those shoe laces.

Tomorrow morning you’re going to pick out your first day of school outfit and I’m going to try to hold it together at drop off until I get back in my car. You’ve waited for two years for this day, to finally be at school with your big sister, and I have tried not to think about it. The American Girl dolls will sit quietly in your room while you meet new friends. The costumes in the closet will actually stay hung up because you won’t have time to transform into Batman or a fireman multiple times a day.

I am sad for me but so excited for you. You saw the tears fall down my face yesterday when we pulled out of your babysitter’s driveway. You spent six years with her and now it’s time to pass the torch to someone else. You smiled a sympathetic smile at me, because somehow you just understand how hard this is for me. For two years, you’ve asked me to “pack a lunch pail” for you, even on the days we would be home. You’ve wanted nothing more than to go to school like your big sister and tomorrow is the day. We didn’t get it all done as I had hoped we would, but we packed a lot in. You asked me not to “embawass” you tomorrow by taking too many pictures and crying too hard. I promised you I would try not to.

I can’t wait to see what you have to offer the world and what the world has to offer you. Be kind and be brave and be a good friend to those that need it most. And know that I am going to miss you so very much.

I’m Not Ready, But You Are

I am not ready for this day just on the horizon, but you are. Tonight, I watched you open and close your new lunchbox over a dozen times. You call it a “lunch pail” and it makes me smile every time. You love your new Frozen backpack and often put it on to show me “it fits so perfectly.” While we were at Target, you excitedly showed other shoppers your new crayons and pencils. When I saw that Target’s summer section was replaced by school supplies, my eyes filled with tears. Other moms smiled at me and nodded hello as their 5th and 6th graders picked out binders. They knew, they remembered. I had five summers to prepare for this, but I still wasn’t ready.

For five summers, I knew this one would be our fastest yet. You were only minutes old when my mom looked at you and said to me, “Before you know it, she will be leaving for her first day of kindergarten.” I’ve thought about those words almost every day. Your grandma has been right about a million things, and those words are some of the truest she has ever said.

I watched you and your little sister fall asleep for a nap on Sunday. I curled up on your beanbag, my eyes filling with tears while I listened to you breathe. I realized this was our last weekend of these Sunday naps we shared for five years. “Oh! The Places You’ll Go!” stared back at me from your bookshelf. I know you’re going places, girl. I know. I’m going to be here cheering you on every step of the way.

There’s so much I have left to show you, to teach you. We need to work on mastering those shoe laces and the loose pony tail the way you like it. We need to work on jumping jacks. While my mind is full of things I’m worried that you might not be ready for, I realize it’s me that isn’t ready. I’m not ready for quiet days without you here. I’m not ready for the day you don’t ask for the race car shopping carts at the grocery store. I’m not ready for the first time you don’t want a hug and a kiss good-bye. I’m just not ready for how incredibly much I’m going to miss hanging out with you. I’m not ready, but you are.

I am so excited to share you with the world. This is the end of an era for me, but the beginning of a new one for you. Those days somehow turned into years and now it’s time to send you out in this world.

You’re one of the most incredible kids I’ve ever known. You are a constant happiness in a world that sometimes isn’t. You care so deeply about everyone else. For your 5th birthday, you asked me to buy food for people who might not have any. You think about everyone else before yourself. You are the greatest big sister to ever be on this earth. You are so exceptionally fun to hang out with. I’m not ready, but you are.

It seems that five is such a young age to release you to the world. Up until now, I’ve had a say in who you play with, who influences the things you say. I’ve helped select your meals and shaped the choices you’ve made. I’m a strong influence in how your likes became your likes. Now it’s up to you.

My heart is overcome by feelings I can’t explain. It is not lost on me how incredibly lucky I am that you get to embark on this childhood passage. We had a friend not come home from St. Jude. He should be starting school this fall, too. So while I am overwhelmed by how hard it will be for me to watch you wave from the playground, I am going to thank God for every second of this, of every moment I get to share with you.

My mind has not yet wrapped itself around how time can go so fast – I have a feeling it never will. I I love you, my sweet girl. You fascinate me every day. I’m not ready to watch that Frozen backpack march down the driveway on the first day, but you are.