Today was your first day of preschool. We dropped Magoo off at school, ran home for about an hour, and then got loaded into the car, me carrying your sister, you carrying a backpack that was three sizes too big for you.
You talked the entire way to school. You had so many questions. Why were you going into Magoo’s school? Why won’t you see her? Is your teacher a leprechaun? (Yes, at church last weekend, I misspoke and led you to believe that your teacher would fit into the palm of your hand.)
We got there a few minutes early, and when I finally told you it was time to get out of the car, you started screaming for joy. You patiently let me take your picture in front of the school sign, and then we went in.
I opened the door to the school office and as I was trying to maneuver the stroller through the too small door frame, you pushed past me, threw your hands in the air, and screamed to anyone within ear shot “I’m ready for preschool!”
And for the first time since this whole preschool talk has come up, I got teary eyed. To be honest after three years of spending every single day with you, I think that moment right there was my favorite. It was your Mary Tyler Moore moment, throwing your hat in the air, announcing to the world that finally and absolutely, you were ready to take it on.
I don’t really like the idea of three year old preschool that much. I want to keep my babies home as long as is good for them, and I would have been more than happy to have you stay completely all mine for another year. But that would have been for me. Not for you.
We dropped your sister off at her first day of preschool two years ago this week. From that moment, you wanted to go in. You were just barely one year old, and almost every day, you would try to get in line with all of the big kids to go in. You would try to trick me and run around me and hide behind other kids. You would try to talk to them and get them to let you in their line. You would do anything in your power to get in that building. Sometimes you made it, dodging under the legs of the teacher, and I would have to go chase you down the hallway of the school.
And then last year when Magoo started kindergarten, it got even harder for you. Firmly etched in my brain are the first few moments of Magoo’s school last year. She was lined up with her friends for class, all of them with their uniforms and their back packs. The principal was leading them all in prayer. And there were you — front and center, right in the middle of all of the big kids with your back pack on (that you insisted on wearing,) your hands folded in prayer, totally oblivious to the fact that all of the other kids were about two heads taller than you.
And that’s when your count down began. For the last year, you have asked me when you can start school. Today was your day.
When Magoo started school, I was petrified. I actually wrote a post entitled, Petrified of Preschool. But you are a bit luckier, Goosie. I’ve done this once before. I’ve sent one of my daughters out into that big world. So for you, all of that baggage is tampered down a bit, and I can sit back a little and watch you shine.
Because if anyone in the world was ready for preschool, my dear, it is you. You don’t have an ounce of shyness. You don’t have an ounce of reserve. You are like a horse at the starting gates, just ready to go out and take the world by storm.
I watched you today. I watched you playing with the magnets and painting, and I felt so unbelievably proud. ”This is my girl,” I thought. This is my little force of nature who wants nothing more than to be and experience and live and flourish and impact. This is my little treasure. My little piece of spunk personified.
We have spent very close to every moment of the last three years together, you and I. Through tears and laughter, you have learned to talk and to play and to share (kinda) and to pray. You are still little. You still have a world to learn. But we have fastened on your training wheels and we are ready to share a little bit of you with the world.
That’s the strange part of being a mama, perhaps. We are so proud. So proud sometimes it hurts, in fact. We want to shout out to the world — look at her! Look at my little girl! Look how smart and spunky and talented and kind and compassionate and beautiful she is. We know she will make the world brighter for every soul she touches. We know just how much of a gift she is, and we know she is our greatest gift to offer the world.
And yet… we don’t want to give you away. We know you can only grow into who you are supposed to be by going out into that big world, but we also just want to grab you and cuddle on the couch and keep you in our arms forever. It’s selfish, of course, but please allow your mama that little place in my heart.
I’m not scared of preschool for you. But I am scared of letting you go. Of watching you run out into the world. Praying that you will always come back.
As you were standing in front of the school sign, and I was taking your picture, and I was feeling all of the emotions that a mama feels at moments like that, I realized that it was just one is a string of many. One day, ten years from now, I’ll be taking that picture for the last time as you get ready to move into the world of high school. And then one day I will turn around and walk out of your dorm room and you won’t be coming with me. And one day I will watch your daddy walk you down the aisle into the arms of another.
And boy, that’s all so exciting. And so sad. And so promising. And so terrifying. And so very, very real.
Yes, as you move out into this world, you will be moving further away from me. But I implore you, don’t let that hinder you. Don’t stay still because you don’t want to leave me. Don’t ever be too filled with guilt to run out into that world and take a hold of it and carve out your very own piece of it for yourself.
You have so many gifts and you are such a tremendous gift to so many. Live it, baby girl. Share it. Be all the greatness that you were meant to be. And trust me, you were meant for greatness.
Just remember to sometimes turn back and wave high to your mama. Give me a hug and a kiss. And remember that before there was all of the excitement of this big world, there was you and me and your daddy in a darkened hospital room early one day in May.
We loved you first. And we always love you big. And we will always be the arms you can come running back into.