To My New Kindergarten Baby,
When you were in my tummy, I prepared a room for you. I spent hours choosing colors and painting furniture. I even hand-made a chandelier. I worked on our little nest, I prayed for every detail of your being, and when you came I cried hot tears of joy mixed with the grief of knowing my job is to let you go.
You grew. We still rocked with your head on my shoulder, but your feet kept moving; long strides as they inched across my body and over the side of our glider. I hugged you and you felt solid, grown. When did this happen? The c-section scars faded, and yet, I still feel like part of me has been taken out and set to run the world.
Squeaky new sneakers skip daintily between tile squares. I watch your movements, seeing the tiny tremble underneath; the tremble only a mom can see. You move forward in boldness, your eyes drinking in every aspect of this new season.
Your classroom glows fun. Tiny chairs and lockers punctuated by puzzles, books, games. You float from one excitement to the next, pressing fingertips as if to test for the sturdiness of your surroundings. You explore, seemingly forgetting me, and then you run back, pressing your face into my belly; you’ve always had to check in. Lonely checks, we call them. You move about with boldness, you’ve always been so brave. And yet, the invisible tether that binds you to me draws you back for just a moment.
I’ve never not been there. The first time you stayed away over-night we returned to each other’s arms and stared—green eyes to brown—as if to be sure the other was real. Now we stand together in this room. A room that has been nested. A room filled with things prepared, tidy and just-so. A room for you. But I did not prepare this room. I smile at the woman who did. I squeak out my name and breathe a sigh when she bends low to high-five your hand.
I watch you flutter around, watch you twist up the corners of your skirt when the nerves jumble in your tummy. I stand, I exhale, want to leave my essence in this room. Create immediate memories with you so when you walk into it without me, you will remember I was here. Remember, mom sat with me in the beanbag chair? We read those books and toppled those blocks. Mom was here, this is safe.
I grasp for tiny glimpses of comfort. The Bible verse in a frame. The way your name is already on so many things. Not my nest, someone else’s: but it’s time to let you go, let you fly; let that tether stretch down the block into this giant classroom in these halls for giants. When did you get so giant?
Then it happens. After an hour of exploration we trickle out of your new digs and you beam with joy! This room is SO cool!! We head down the hall, getting our bearings.
Here’s the bathroom! Right next to your classroom! The doors are aqua! Your favorite! The potties sit low…but wait, they’re self-flushing. We stop and stare. Brown eyes flush with fear. “Let’s practice,” I say.
“I won’t be here,” words I’ve never said come quietly, “you’ve got to try it on your own so you know that you can do it. Jesus tells us he gave us a heart that is brave not afraid, he can help you.”
Bottom lip quivers and eyes brim. All brave-face is lost. I slide my back down the wall, on your level I gather you up. My voice chokes as I whisper, “we can do this”-—and I preach to my heart more than this moment. “I’ll go first, watch me, now you, that’s it! It didn’t flush! Now you have the control, push the button! You did it!” We hug. Your tears dry and mine sink back into my throat for later.
You are so brave.
I watched you face your fear, watched you conquer it, watched you turn to Jesus when your sweet tiny world got rocked. I’ll let you go because I know He promises a place for you at His altars, and it’s there I will continue to build our nest.
I love you with my whole heart,