She set out her brand new sundress and her backpack stuffed with extra books “just in case they have show-and-tell tomorrow.” She’s still deciding about whether to bring lunch in her new purple polka dot lunchbox or to walk through the cafeteria line for the very first time (because corn dogs are on the menu). She’s excited. And so very curious.
Well, I’m trying.
It shouldn’t seem like a super big deal, kindergarden. After all, Lily’s been in preschool since she was 18 months old. She is used to change and new friends and different teachers and being away from home.
But it is a big deal. Bigger than big.
I’ve been trying all week to put my finger on exactly why. The best I can come up with, besides the fact that it feels like my heart is in a vice, is this: Lily is stepping out into the world, by herself. This is the beginning of her slow, steady march away from us. The beginning of independence, the beginning of a Monday through Friday regimen that will carry her through school into college and out into the working world. The beginning of everything.
We’ve been home together at least two days a week since she was a newborn. I can’t begin to describe how much I will miss her. And I can’t imagine the loss Sophie will feel (after the euporhia of playing with her sister’s toys wears off).
It wasn’t long ago that I held a swaddled, screaming Lily in the middle of the night, trying to get her to drink my milk, praying to God that time would please pass quickly. I was desperate and depressed and fully convinced that my child would never ever sleep.
I wished time away. (How I wish I hadn’t.)
Don’t get me wrong. I definitely don’t want to press the reverse button, if such a thing existed. Lily barreled into our world, knocked me clear off my feet, then helped me heal. She made me who I am, and every minute of our five and a half years together continues to shape me. The thing is, she was just a baby (right?) not long ago and then a toddler and a precarious preschooler. And now she’s lanky and hilarious and so smart it makes my head spin. She is a little big girl.
So tonight when we snuggled in bed extra long on this kindergarten eve, I found her little hand and held it. And I reflexively ran my thumb over that sweet little plumpness just below her knuckles. It’s still there.