As we skipped off to kindergarten orientation, you mentioned feeling both nervous and excited for this new chapter. I smiled calmly, reassuring you those are two healthy, natural emotions. But I have a secret, my dear: I feel the exact same way.

You see, as a mom, it’s my job to be your rock. To motivate and encourage you, remind you that everything is going to be okay, no matter what I’m feeling inside. Sometimes I think you’re brave for both of us, but in this case I’m just as nervous and excited as you are.

Your first day of kindergarten is mine, too.

While you’re picking out your outfit to represent your personality, I’m also deciding what to wear for my first impression on your teacher.

As you’re meeting new kids, wondering which friends you’ll sit with at lunch, I too am thinking about who I’ll vibe with as I join the PTA with parents I don’t know yet.

When you’re practicing longer hours apart, I’ll be learning how to get through the day without constant photos and text updates from your teachers, as I’m used to in preschool.

We’ll both be adjusting to the new routine of dropping you off outside the building instead of walking you into the classroom like we always have.

I’ve been acting fine with it this whole time, but to be honest, it tugs at my heart knowing how fleeting your youth is. It’s not just kindergarten, but the thoughts of what will follow. Homework and crushes and gossip and crop tops. This period seems so pivotal. Sure, you’re only five, but you were also only two before I blinked and we got here.

Everything is moving so quickly as I now navigate my updated role as the mom of a kindergartner. I’ll be figuratively and literally holding your hand less, letting you be free more. And while I have pure confidence that you’ll soar with flying colors, I share in your wonderment about the unknown ahead.

How will I get there on time so early in the morning? How do I set up your hot lunches? Should I volunteer as a class mom? What projects will you have due? What will it be like at birthday parties and playdates when I don’t know the families as well as I’m used to?

Your beginnings are mine too as we both navigate your independence. You’ll need me in different ways, and that’s an adjustment on my end also. It’s always been this way though—us being intertwined. After all, for nine months we did everything as one while you grew inside me, so on some level, I feel we’ll always be synced.

It brings me back to my own childhood and helps me connect with you. I recall emotions of being your age, empathizing those feelings, seeing them now through adult eyes. Packing your backpack the night before classes begin. The adrenaline rush of entering a cheery classroom set up for your arrival. Eagerly hearing your teacher’s spiel as they introduce themselves, and hype you up for the rest of the year. And making new friends along the way.

I’m enthusiastic about what you have on the horizon, the topics you’ll report back about, the subjects you’ll learn, and the life lessons you’ll encounter along the way. I look forward to hearing your stories and being introduced to peers you’ll choose to spend time with, reliving this stage vicariously through your experiences.

I hope you know how much I’ve enjoyed being home with you. Despite some challenging days, this was truly the best thing I’ve ever done. It’s not over by any means, but it’s changing. So are you.

But that’s the point of this journey, isn’t it?

To give you the tools to do more on your own so you can continue to grow into the person you were born to be. As your mom, I’ll evolve right there with you. You’ve got this. And I’ve got you, my sweet kindergartener.

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