The First Baby Step Into the World
My Kaili had just turned 3 years old when she was to start pre-school for the first time. We were all so excited, she was to attend the same preschool as her Dad, and one in which her Gramma had taught at as well years ago. I can remember this moment, how could she be three, how could she already have two younger brothers and ready to fly the nest, at least for a few hours, 3 mornings a week. I can remember her first day of preschool, a 2-month-old infant, an 18th-month-old Toddler, and our 3-year-old “big girl”. We were excited, but also as any parent feels, anxious about having her in someone else’s care, she had been home with me or with my mother in law—we were entering that brave stage, when she is in another persons care.
I remember it all so vividly. We shopped for her “school dress” at Talbots Kids. We bathed her extra the night before, I still remember how much I laughed when my husband said, "make sure she’s bathed really well, I don’t want my kids being the smelly kid at school”. She has been spit shiny clean from day one, now her baby brother, on the other hand, is a different story (hello 3rd child)! Hairbrush and put back in barrets , knee socks and school shoes, this was a rite of passage, an important time in her life and in ours.
Will she be okay? Of course, she is verbal, loves to play, loves books, and is an easy child, she was so smart.
There were so many changes that summer, she just turned 3, we had our 3rd baby, adding a new baby brother to the mix made life a bit crazy at home. We skipped off to school, and I held her hand as I walked her in. I can remember being all dressed for the “I’m really a Mom” role, with my cardigan J Crew sweater & khaki’s, my Bob Hair (the mom doo at the time), and my cute matching Kate Spade Bag. Yep, I meant’ business as a Mom bringing her child to school. Exhausted inside, worried inside but by all accounts, had it together and ready to walk into this next chapter. Ready or not, here we come!
All smiles to start. I was able to get her inside and accommodated, with a lump in my throat, looking around at the kids and thinking you better not be mean to my beautiful Kaili. She was fine, and out the door I went. Yes, from outside I did go up to the window to look inside and see my baby girl take on the world. My eyes teared up, and I realized I needed to walk away, go home and wait until I could pick her up.
Day 2, she did not want to go to school. She cried and cried. We took her and the head of the pre-school assured me she would be fine and keep bringing her back.
Day 3, she is holding on to the banister at home as we were dragging her in. It was so unlike her, she was such a happy girl, but she did not want to be there, she wanted to be home—we carried her kicking and screaming into the school as the teacher told me to do. It began to not feel right, my gut was telling me she was just not ready. One thing she shared with me was that the “lady yelled at her”—there was one strict teacher that raised her voice, and to Kaili, it scared her and made her not want to be there. That and being one of the youngest there put her on the fence of being ready.
She was not ready for pre-school. The teachers finally agreed with me, and she was no longer a student at Mrs. A’s.
I thought we failed as parents. I thought what if this happens at Kindergarten, and all through her school years, will she ever be ready?
Seeing her go through this is something I don’t want to experience again. I can still picture my mother in law laughing when Kaili shared with her “I’m taking a year off”, as in I’m taking a Gap year. It was a matter of fact, and that was her answer.
We were fortunate to find a toddler/preschool program in our town that was led by a Mom and Educator that loved all over these kids a few mornings a week for a few hours. We transitioned Kaili in and she thrived, Ms. Lawnsby’s was the perfect place for Kaili to grow her wings so that she could truly fly.
We have seen the wings grow over the years. We have been so incredibly blessed with one of the greatest girls in the world. She truly is a dream come true. My fear back then of “what will happen when she goes to Kindergarten, and Middle School, High School & College….
Will She Be Ready?
In less than 2 days, we will drop our baby girl and first born off at college and I am so proud to say she is completely ready.
I am emotional about this (as many Moms are), I think so deeply and I am sensitive in nature, so milestones and moments are something that I feel very deeply about. I keep picturing her first day home with us, and ask myself, how did we get here?
In this picture, I am zipping her rain jacket, and at the time, not knowing if she was ready.
Now, I am watching her pack her raincoat, take my Hunter Rainboots (thanks Kaili), and knowing that the best is yet to come for her.
It’s a very happy time for all of us, but a bit sad because of all the love we have for her and all the gratitude we have for all those years of having her home, having her under our roof, and having her in our arms.
This is what we work towards, and this is what we want. This is not just my story, this is our story.
To the Mom’s that have gone before me in this process: I admire you and want you to know how brave you are.
To those going through this for the first time along with me: you’ve got this, congrats on sending your baby off to college, you did your job and now he or she will do hers—great job Mamma.
To the Mom’s that still have littles, tweens or teens at home: you know, “in the blink of an eye”, truly, it really does go by in the blink of an eye. Say yes more often, don’t sweat the small stuff, be there, put family first. All those moments you go crazy and you think you can’t get through the day, you will. And those days will all of a sudden become years, and while you have 18 summers, at some point, it will be your last. Cherish what you can, make time for it, and remember these moments, for they are the best moments.
This “rite of passage” is for the parents sending the kids, but it is mostly the kids taking on this important phase and stage in their life.
So while I have mixed emotions, at the end of the day I am so grateful, so excited and so confident my girl is ready! It is almost time to zip up her bag, and head to college. Just like that!