Dear Kindergarten Teacher,
My first born is starting Kindergarten today. I have tears just writing those words. My first living baby, the baby I longed for, who I so desperately tried to become pregnant with, is going to school. That sweet baby boy who changed my world forever on one November day, the one who made me a mom, is going to kindergarten. He’ll go through the big double doors, walk down a long hall bustling with teachers and kids, go into in a brightly colored classroom filled with little tables and chairs, and sit down with 19 kids he doesn’t know. He’ll spend 35 hours in your classroom under your care. I’ve known this day was coming but as it has gotten closer, my thoughts have become desperate. I’ve gone from wondering if I had the wherewithal to homeschool him while managing my other three children (ages four and under), to wondering if there is a remote island we could move to that doesn’t require school, to one day declaring we would just go to private school so I could opt for him to go a half day.
But here we are, I’ve made it to the big day. I say “I’ve made it” because my son couldn’t be happier about starting school, but I can’t make it down the card aisle at Target without crying. I teared up while school supply shopping, when picking out his backpack, when buying his uniform, and when gifting his first Bible to commemorate this milestone. I will likely never forget watching my shy, timid, very bright firstborn, barely utter a sound when you so sweetly asked for his name. Even when you got on his level and asked him again, his words were barely audible as he responded…and yes I cried then too.
This first day of kindergarten culminates five and a half years, or 2,101 days, of being his Mommy, his caregiver, his prayer warrior, his teacher, his nurturer, his cheerleader, his confidant, his shoulder to cry on, his friend. Our goal in this crazy journey called life is to leave a lasting legacy for our children by following our Savior, Jesus Christ. My job has been to prepare him for school, to be kind, loving and accepting, to interact and work well with others, to respect authority, to experience the world, and to one day become a God-fearing man. I have very mixed emotions about it all. It’s bittersweet.
You see, I’m proud of the young boy he is becoming. He is kind, thoughtful, and has a desire to help. He has a loving heart, and he’s so good with his younger brother and sister, and his baby brother. He is the first to tell me that he likes my dress or that I look pretty. When I walk in the door from running a quick errand, he runs to hug me as if I had been gone for days. He giggles when his Daddy kisses me. He opens the door for me, and sweetly tells his sister “ladies first”. He already has a sense of loyalty to our family, recently saying, “Baby brother will miss me playing with him while I’m at school.” He’s becoming responsible and he shows a desire to do the right thing. After learning about tithing at church, he asked what he could do to earn money. Since we assigned him a few chores he has completed them faithfully each week. I often marvel at the intricate details of his personality and the way God so miraculously made him. But even in the midst of feeling proud, I’m fearful. Will he be kind to others like we taught him? Will he embrace those that are different like we hope? What if someone makes fun of him? What if he’s bullied? What if he doesn’t make friends quickly? What if he gets hurt? What if he misses his best friend, his little brother? What if he needs his Dad? What if he needs me? Ah…that last revolving question gets me every time.
I’m excited about all he’ll learn. I had the privilege of preparing him for this milestone…teaching him colors, shapes, and how to work puzzles. He learned the alphabet and we worked on phonics. I taught him how to write, how to count, and how to use scissors and glue. He learned how to make beautiful creations with colors, markers, paint, and chalk. We learned bible verses and sang nursery rhymes. He learned to follow directions, and to build, create, and imagine. We are thankful for the village around us who have helped him grow. But even in the midst of my excitement, I’m anxious. Did I teach him everything he needs to know? Will he feel prepared? Will he succeed? Will he struggle? Will he act out? Will he get distracted? Will he apply himself? Will he be respectful to his teacher? Did I instill in him a thirst for learning?
I’m thankful we’ve had the opportunity to do puppet shows, play dress up, and make countless crafts, art projects, and playdoh creations together. We’ve played outside in the sand and inside in the middle of Legos and blocks. We’ve worked puzzles and read books. We’ve gone on nature walks and played in the creek. We’ve played at the pool, in the sprinkler, and at the splash park. We’ve visited the museum and the zoo, and we’ve gone to the children’s theatre. We went to bible study, had picnics at the park, and had countless play dates. But even in the midst of my thankfulness for all these precious moments, I’m sad. Did we get enough time together? Did we do all we could do? Did I spend too much time on my phone? Did I waste time on social media? Did I spend too much time cleaning the house? Did I spend enough time talking about our faith and the things that matter? Did I help him see the wonder of this world?
In the midst of feeling this strong assortment of emotions, I turn to my Heavenly Father for answers. When I’m fearful, Deuteronomy 31:6 says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” When I’m anxious, Proverbs 3:5-6 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding, acknowledge Him in all your ways, and He shall direct your path.” When I’m sad, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles.”
Am I a perfect Mom? No. Did I make mistakes? Yes. Did I lose my temper? Of course. Did I too often need a break? Probably. Did I love enough? Certainly. Does he know he is loved? Absolutely. Am I alone enough for him? No, I’m not. I’m just an imperfect person living in a fallen world trying to do the best I can. But with God, I know I am enough. John 15:5 says “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” And thankfully, because I am redeemed, I can set aside my “mommy guilt” and have confidence and peace that I am enough.
As his new teacher, I hope you will celebrate him when he learns a new skill. I hope you will pick him up when he falls and skins his knee. I hope you will hug him when he feels overwhelmed. I hope you’ll guide him to a new friend when he feels alone. I hope you will gently reprimand him when he disobeys. I hope you’ll pray for him when you see an opportunity.
And finally, I want to say thank you. Thank you for taking the reins. Thank you for choosing a noble job to educate our future. Thank you for putting the needs of your students before yours. Thank you for knowing your job is sometimes thankless but doing a great job anyway. Thank you for partnering with me, and welcoming me into your classroom. Thank you for agreeing to help him grow. Thank you for taking his hand from mine and promising to hold it for me.
God bless you on this first day of kindergarten, and each day to come,