As August comes to an end, so does my summer break. This is always a bittersweet time for me. I really enjoy spending the summer with my kids and I cherish the adventures and quality time we get to have. However, I am also excited about returning to school and seeing my students who I have missed during the summer. This year, the same combination of emotions are present and even intensified. My nerves are high as I try to picture what our new normal at school will look like. Also weighing incredibly heavy on my heart is the reality that my sweet oldest child is starting Kindergarten. Kindergarten!! How my little guy is already at the age of starting school is beyond me. As I’ve been working through all the logistics of our new routine, and processing the accompanying emotions, I decided to write a letter to my son, commemorating the beginning of his education, which I plan to share with him someday.
Today is your first day of Kindergarten. I do not know who is more afraid, you or me. Actually that is not true, I am certain I am more afraid. Today you start an educational journey that will last a lifetime, and I am so proud of you! You are kind, thoughtful, silly, and full of joy. I am so proud to be your mom.
Sometimes I wish that I could hold onto you and never let you go. I want to protect you, help you maintain your sweet innocence and gentle spirit. The honest truth is: the world is terrifying. So terrifying, in fact, that I am secretly reconsidering, for approximately the millionth time, even letting you attend school. But, you will go. And, you will take your big heart and your thoughtful, fun-loving personality and you will share it with new friends, teachers, and everyone you meet. And the world will be better for it.
There is one parenting quote that has been playing on repeat in my head the past month as we have prepared to send you to Kindergarten. It is from the always informative Dory the fish (Finding Nemo), as she talked to Marlin about his desire to protect his son Nemo, she said, “Well, you can’t never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him.” Truth. Life has to happen. Life gets to happen. Even if, as your mom, I am scared of the journey you are about to embark on, full of difficult hurdles and complicated twists. I am also excited by all the amazing, difficult, impactful, life changing things that you are going to learn and do as you continue to grow into the person that you are going to be.
This letter would not be complete without acknowledging the emotions that I have experienced knowing that your kindergarten year will not look as we had hoped and dreamed. Due to this pandemic, your milestone year is going to be complex and unfamiliar. There will be hybrid learning, masks, limits on activities and experiences. It is all so far from ideal. However, through it all, I believe that this year will still be impactful. Your ability to learn how to adapt will prepare you for the detours you will encounter throughout life. I am still sad that this is how your educational journey has to start, but I am so thankful that I get to be your mom and walk through it with you.
My dear child, I love you so much. I am so thankful that you are a part of my life. I know that you will be amazing through all the ups and downs, because you are you. Here’s to your Kindergarten year.
Jessica is a wife, mom, school social worker, and aspiring writer. She is co-author of the blog The Unexpected Ever Afters.