Monday, August 18, 2008

Dear Drew,

Today was your first day of kindergarten - such a big milestone.

I remember your first day of preschool two years ago. I dropped you off on the playground and you only hesitated for a moment before you began playing with some of your classmates. I got back in my car and was so proud of myself for not crying even though it was so hard to say goodbye to you. I pulled around the corner where I could watch you playing from my car for a few minutes, just to make sure you were still having fun. All of a sudden, you turned around towards the gate where I had dropped you off. My heart broke. I knew you were looking for me. Looking to see if I was watching you play. You knew of no other way. I had always been there - watching you and taking care of you - always there for you to run to if you needed me.

I wasn't there this time though and my heart stopped for a moment as I watched for your reaction. You kept looking - trying to find me among the other moms who were dropping off their own children. After a minute, you stopped looking. I couldn't bear to imagine what you must have been thinking. Did you think I had left you? Did you know I was coming back in just a few hours? Were you worried because you were surrounded by strangers? You were standing there by yourself and then one of your teachers came over to guide you towards the sandbox. I finally started to drive away but then had to park the car because I couldn't see through my tears. Your teachers later told me that you had a great day and only began asking for me after lunch - saying you missed me and wanted me to come take you home. It was only an hour later that I picked you up and you were so happy to see me. You did great that year - preschool was only one day a week.

Last year, you were scheduled to go to school every day, but that never happened. I kept you out at least once a week so we could do something fun together. That is one of the benefits of preschool - it's completely voluntary so I kept you for myself much more than I probably should have. But, we had so much fun on those days (most of them spent out at Disney) and I don't regret a single second of it.

Because now you HAVE to go to school every day. This is kindergarten. The big leagues. I can't just keep you home because I've been missing you. The days are longer and there won't be as much time for playing like there was at preschool. There definitely won't be rest time. Daddy and I went to open house and found out that kindergarten is serious business these days. Your teacher is wonderful, but there are lots of requirements and expectations, and the days are jam packed with learning. I know your teacher will make it fun though. She seems like the perfect teacher for you - structured, yet very kind and caring.

Last night was difficult for me as I tucked you in for bed. It's hard to be confronted with this enormous change that leaves no room to deny the fact that you are growing up. You are gaining more and more independence and you've left your baby years far behind. However, you will always be my baby and those reflections on your first 5 years of life are what left me in a heap of tears for most of the night.

I'm so blessed that I was able to stay home and spend that time with you. It's the best thing I've ever done in my life.

As we drove to school, I told you that today I would hold your hand as we walked to the classroom and then tomorrow you could walk in front of me to show me that you know the way so you'd be ready when I'm not allowed to walk you to class anymore. At first you agreed and then you told me, "Actually mama, I can walk in front of you today. I know the way. I'll show you." I wanted to tell you that it was ME who needed to hold YOUR hand, but I knew I needed to let you build your confidence and trust in yourself.

So that's what you did. You walked in front of me - checking over your shoulder a few times to make sure that I was still there. As we got to the classroom door you suddenly grabbed my hand and looked at me with uncertainty. We walked into the classroom together and your teacher told you to pick any seat you liked. We chose blue (your favorite color) and you were just fine.

I had thought about the last thing I would say to you before I left. I decided to keep it simple as I looked straight into your eyes and told you, "Drew, I'm so proud of you and I know you'll have a great day. Just know that I'm always loving you. I am always loving you." You leaned over to kiss me and said, "Oh mama, I'm just loving you too!" I hugged your sweet body as the teacher let the parents know that it was time to go. You waved goodbye to me without hesitation.

There's been a lump in my throat all day as I try to imagine what you might be doing. And the tears are so close to the surface whenever anyone asks me how I'm doing. We spent almost every day together this summer, and Abby and I were definitely missing you as we continued with our day. I lost track of how many times she asked, "Is it time to go get my Drew yet?"

And then it finally was time to get you and I waved to you from the car as we waited our turn in line. You had a huge smile on your face and you waved to me excitedly. You bounced into the car wearing a hat that you had made and you said, "It was a great day, mama! I love kindergarten! I made this hat and the playground was my favorite part!" I breathed a sigh of relief and soaked up all of your excitement. I couldn't have asked for a better first day for you.

I know this is just one big step in that process of letting go. It is so very hard for me to do. For the first three years of your life, I knew what you were doing every day at any given moment. You were my entire life and I yours. Slowly, with each passing year, I've had to let more and more of that go - it's my job as your mama. And, this kindergarten year, it is a big step towards even more independence.

I'm so proud of you. So very proud. And though I'll have to continue to let go, I know it will only be so I can watch you spread your wings. Through it all, no matter what might happen, I just want you to know that I'll always be here for you. You will never have to look far to find me. You can be sure that I will always be within reach, loving you more than you will ever know. I am your biggest fan, sweet boy.

And, just remember -

I am always loving you...


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I was fine with Drew starting kindergarten until I read your blog. You put me in tears. You're such a caring mama and the kids know it deep inside. I love you!


Todd Pollock said...

Dude. That was awesome. This should be required reading for parents of young ones. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Savannah started her senior year the day that Drew started kindergarten. I could identify with every single word you wrote. Again. Please re-read your blog at other milestones in the coming years. You'll be amazed at how nothing and yet everything will change. That was a great post. Love you, Tracy Taylor

Chris/Stan Petrousky said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Krista said...

I linked to you to see who won the prize from Pioneer Woman. You have touched my heart with your story of the first day of kindergarten. I had a son move off to start college this summer and I am planning my daughter's wedding. Hold on to these moments...they are fleeting. Seems like I was there only yesterday. Drew will treasure what you are doing in your blog someday. Thanks for bringing back memories for us "old" mamas.

Jennie B said...

Congrats on your PW win! I also linked to see who won and sit here bawling, not looking forward to kindergarten with my 2 year old. I definitely am going to cherish all the time I have with him before he is able to spread his wings.

Thank you for the moving blog.

Jennie said...

I also linked here through Pioneer Womans website. My "babies" are a bit older... 24 and 21. My oldest has a baby of her own and my younger one is away in New Zealand to study abroad this semester. He's in his last year at Purdue. You had me bawling just remembering when I took them to pre-school and then off to Kindergarten the first day. I can remember it, and the tears that I cried having to leave them. As hard as it is to accept, these times will happen. You just have to remember to make their memories of these milestones positive ones for them, and you.

Terry in Indiana said...

Wow...a lot of PW readers out there! It's fun to check out their websites. My babies have flown out of the nest, but I still feel the same way as you did in your blog yesterday! Always loving them...that's the greatest gift you can give them. I also wrote about my empty nest on my website, if you want to check it out.
Terry in Indiana

Anonymous said...

Congrats Amy! Those PW giveaways are always such a tease, especially for Elements users. So when I saw who won, and read your post, I was extra happy for you since (as an Elements user myself) I know how much 'moving up' to CS3 could and would do for editing possibilities.
Love your blog and the combination of your keepsake shots and wonderful, loving words for your kids.
Keep up the great work and enjoy your editing adventures!
(I'll hold down the fort for the Elements users in the meantime).


Anonymous said...

Found your blog through PW. Congrats on your win you lucky girl! Your kids are adorable! Loved reading through your page and hearing your daughter's kind words. She is beyond her years with her thinking. What an angel! When she hits kindergarten bring a box of kleenex with you when she walks through those school doors. My kids are starting 5th and 2nd. Getting easier, but missing those younger days, like your Abigail, with my daughter. However, enjoying the new milestones with her as she gets older. Never a dull moment! Enjoy CS3!

KayB said...

Like some of the others have written, I linked to your blog via PW to see who won. Now I'm sitting here with tears after reading about Drew and thinking of my own son. My son started middle school this week. It seems just yesterday that I was having the same feelings (as you)when I dropped him off for his first day of Kindergarten. When I dropped him off for MS, I felt sad, but not as bad as 6 years ago. This time I had a great deal of pride knowing he was going to be fine. I always look forward to picking him up & hearing about his day.

Mommy of Three! said...

I clicked on your name as you won today's contest at Pioneer Woman! Congrats! However, I can barely see through the tears to type as my daughter started Kindergarten this week & I always write them a note the night before school starts but this tore my heart to pieces! I have always said I am not a mom who is ready for her kids to go back to school, I am sad every year & it doesn't get better & you have very eloquently explained why that is how I feel!! I am letting them go & it won't ever end, this process! Congrats again on the contest win! Take Care!

Anonymous said...

I love your post! My son is starting Kindergarten this Monday. I'm going to write him a letter too. What a great idea! Congrats on your win! You'll LOVE Photoshop! Get ready to be addicted.

-Amy from Texas

Anonymous said...

Hi Amy:

Finally got around to some of my emails and checked out your blog.

Congrats on winning the contest, but, more importantly your blog about Drew's first day of Kindergarten was so touching.

I was able to relate to a mother's perspective even though my babies are grown; soon to be 26 (Joanna) and 22 (Christina). You never lose that feeling even though they are adults.

The lump in your throat is still there when they leave to go home, back to college or to start a new career. The tears continue to flow and you wonder where has the time gone?

You've captured the secret and for that you and Matt should be proud.

Love, Aunt Joanne