Sending your first baby off to kindergarten is brutal. I rank it among my top three hardest parenting moments to date. Even if you know they are “ready”, nothing quite prepares you for the actual letting go. It’s been seven years since my first go-round with sending my babies off to kindergarten, and I’m preparing to send my last baby off in a few short weeks. I’m welling up with tears just typing that.
And even though she is so excited, even though I kept her home an extra year and she is beyond ready, even though she will have the same kindergarten teacher as one of her brothers did, I’m still preparing my heart to feel big emotions on that day.
So what do we do with our own big feelings, besides shoving them aside to feign our happiness and excitement for our little ones? We take the advice that an amazing mama shared with me all those years ago. She told me “Be gentle with yourself today. Do something expressly kind for yourself.” So on my first go around, I put my other little ones down for nap time and ordered in lunch for myself. Then I crafted. I don’t remember what I made, but I remember that crafting makes my heart soar, so that’s what I did that day. This year, I’ll be all alone for the first time in 12 years. I can barley even comprehend having all my children in school at the same time. My plan for this year’s first day of school will be something similar. I’ll get them all off to school with smiles and hugs, and once they’re all off, I’ll let myself feel the feels. But then I’ll do something expressly kind for myself, something that fills my heart and breathes life back in to me. And with that, I know the hours will pass and it’ll be time to go pick them all back up again, and I will smother them in love once again.
Be gentle with yourselves, friends. I promise it won’t always feel this hard. I’m thinking of you, and your little ones.