It’s the First Day of Kindergarten

I have been emotionally okay through all of this Covid-19 mess. I’ve had my moments, but they were easy to conquer and move past.

But I’m afraid I have finally met my corona kryptonite. The thing that is going to do me in. The thing that I am not strong enough to emotionally dismiss and move on.

This event was more of a realization of a future loss, and I have cried a little about it each day since hearing the news. It shook me to my mama core, unlike all the other significant life changes of the past five months.

Nothing has affected me like this. Not quarantine. Not distance learning. Not having surgery and three days later being thrown into a world depicted in movies as post-apocalyptic. Not two quarantine birthdays. Not being unable to visit my grandmother in the nursing home. Not missing gathering with my church family in worship. Not a pay cut. And not the looming fear of job cuts.

But this.

The Unsuspected Changes of the School Year

In a conversation about how the upcoming school year will be, I realized in an unsuspected moment that I will not be allowed to walk my son down the hall to his class on his first day of kindergarten. No matter what our school year looks like, it’s just logically is not going to happen. Twenty parents per class for every classroom in the hall would be irresponsible, considering the number of Covid-19 cases. It’s just not going to happen.

I don’t doubt that my son will be lovingly guided through the building to the room where he belongs. My sadness isn’t for him. It’s for me.

I NEED to walk him down the hall, just like I did his older sisters on their first day of kindergarten. I need to physically walk him down the hall and place him in the care of his teacher. I need to take a picture of him walking in front of me with his too-big backpack bouncing up and down on his little back. I took the same picture of each of my girls, and I remember trying to hurry and praying no other parent looked at me while I was fighting back the tears.

Little girl walking down the hallway on her first day of kindergarten with a pink and white stripe backpack with her monogram and a big pink bow in her hair.

When Your First Born Starts School

I walked my oldest to her classroom and had every intention of telling her sweet teacher, “this is my first baby. She’s kind, and she’s innocent, and her world is rainbows and butterflies. I’ve never had to share her with anyone else, but now I’m willing to share her with you. I need you to love her like I do and indulge in her stories and her excitement. Let her dance and sing, and teach her to love learning the way she loves life. I trust you not to ruin her because I have poured my whole heart into her little life.”

But when the time came, I couldn’t say a word. I smiled and snapped a picture of her pointing to her name on the door, and I made sure she was settled at her table before I moved toward the exit. I looked back to see if she was looking back, but she wasn’t. She was fine. She didn’t need me there, but I needed me there. She had a beautiful kindergarten year, and it was almost as if her teacher heard the words my heart wanted to say, but my tears silenced.

Little girl walking down a school hallway on her first day of kindergarten with a floral back pack with her name embroidered on the back and a big colorful bow in her fair.

It Never Gets Easier

I took the same picture of my second daughter on her first day of kindergarten, who walked with a little less confidence down the hall to her classroom. I hoped it would be easier to leave my second baby, but it wasn’t. Again, I had my spill planned out for her teacher. “This is my second baby. She grew up way too fast when her baby brother came along, and I sometimes have to remind myself that she is just a baby herself. She has the biggest smile and the biggest emotions that she sometimes doesn’t know how to handle. She needs you to help her. She needs you to guide her as she figures this world out. She is the sweetest little thing, and she will be your biggest fan if you love her. Please love her. She is my whole world, and we’ve never been apart. Until today.”

But again, I couldn’t say a word. I took the pictures I was supposed to, and as I was trying not to be the mom who lingered too long, I saw her eyes glisten. I wanted to cry with her, but I did what I was supposed to do. I encouraged her, embraced and kissed her, and slipped out the door. And just like her sister, she was ready. Her teacher gave her such an enjoyable kindergarten experience, and she loved my baby the way my heart silently pleaded for her to on the first day.

I Need to Walk my Baby to Class

And now, in less than four weeks, I will NEED to make that walk with my son. I will need to take the same picture, even though he will be walking way too fast. I will need to give him to his teacher (who I’ve been praying for), and I will need to tell her, “this is my last baby. He’s all I have left. He’s the last little one I have, and I really don’t want to give him to you. This day came too fast, and I’m not ready for it. But he is. He’s going to blow kindergarten out of the water. He’s the smartest little boy I’ve ever met, and he’s funny too. He has the most inquisitive mind, and I need you to feed it. He loves bugs and building things, and he will probably pick every flower on the playground for you. Please let him. Please nurture his little heart and encourage him to run and play and laugh. Please love him the way I do. Please give him and me the best kindergarten year ever, because this is it for me.”

Close up of little boy wearing a blue star mask.

But I know in my heart that walk down the hall won’t happen. I’m so sad, and I’m also angry at everything this stupid virus has robbed from so many people—even my little big-eyed kindergartener. No field trips, no lunch dates with mama, and many other unforeseen changes that he will grow up thinking are normal.

I know the beautiful souls at his school are working hard to make the school year special, despite the circumstances. I know his teacher will love him and take care of him, but knowing that doesn’t make my Mama heart feel better. The first-day walk was monumental for me with my first two. I just assumed it would follow suit for him. Isn’t that motherhood, though? Ever-changing and never easy.

The most important thing is that he will be fine on his first day of kindergarten, and I will eventually be too. For now, though, it’s touch and go.

If you enjoyed this story be sure to read, A Mother’s Grief on a Lost Senior Year and Lessons I Learned my Senior Year.

Copywrite 2020 Magnolia Moms

Ashlee Britt

Ashlee Everett Britt is a teacher-turned stay at home mom-turned photographer who still doesn’t know what she wants to be when she grows up. Her degrees are in math and secondary education, but English was always her favorite subject. She enjoys writing and music as a destresser, and she loves the beach, Dr. Pepper, talking and “going home.” Ashlee is a volunteer at her children’s schools and a local community outreach center and serves on the preschool ministry team at her church. Ashlee and her husband Stuart have been married for 14 years and they currently reside in Madison with their children Addi (12), Benna (7) and Judah (5).

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