My first born is embarking on turning five, and I’m in denial.
He stands tall past my waist, hugs me hard and has figured out how to eye roll (I know- painful.) As I mentally prep for his first day of Pre-K at elementary school, I can't help but re-read the letter I wrote him a few years ago, the night before he started preschool.
Here it is.
January 3, 2016
Tomorrow you start preschool.
I have such mixed emotions about you starting this new chapter of your life.
Your mother expresses herself best in writing, so here it goes.
Your early entrance into this world took quite a toll on me. The moment you were born, you became my prized possession – my 4 pound preemie I was bound to protect with all my might. I became an over the top control freak – I didn't want other people breathing on you, I kept you tremendously clean and I watched you sleep (more so, breathe) every single night. Our beautiful codependency formed from your birth – you were mine and I was yours.
I have since watched you grow, thrive and morph into an incredible little boy. You are sweet, cautious, kind, thoughtful, funny, smart, witty, snuggable and magnetically handsome. Every day you are becoming more and more independent, and while that makes me proud, little pieces of "us" are slowly disappearing.
Over the past year, you have accepted the role as a fantastic big brother. You wake up every morning asking for "baby," and while sharing can be challenging, you always make sure Za-Za has a toy in hand. You make your little brother laugh and smile – he is your best friend forever and I have no doubt your brotherly bond will remain strong due to the old soul I know you encumber.
Every day I'm getting more and more accepting of your boyish tendencies. It drives me crazy seeing you play with dirt, run around with no shoes and climb on the counter. I want to protect you from every germ, sickness and hazard, but I'm slowly accepting the fact I must learn to chill. You are a cautious little boy – like me. You are well aware of your surroundings and your comfortability. You gravitate toward the safeness and security of me – mama – and I can't tell you how much that warms my heart. I feel safest with you, too – there's no one that will watch you, love you and comfort you more than me.
But we must work on somewhat surrendering our beautiful codependency.
Your dad and I have decided to give preschool a go – not because we have to, but because we want to do what we feel is best for you. We want you to be happy. We want you to have fun. We want you to socialize, form confidence and thrive in a stimulating environment. It's only three mornings a week, giving you time to grow and me time for your brother, work and myself.
You will love it. There's dancing, singing, reading, playing, art and more. The atmosphere is so warm and intimate, and the kids seem warm and welcoming. Your teachers will adore your sweet self, and I know you will blossom before our eyes.
But it will be tough, in the beginning, for us both.
The other week I brought you to class to get used to your new school surroundings. You were fine for a while, but when you noticed I snuck out, you began to cry. When I made my way back to your classroom, tears were pouring down your face and mutters of "mama" poured from your mouth. Inside, my heart broke. What was I doing putting you through such turmoil?
Unbelievably so, I didn't crumble. I cannot let you see my weakness – you'll feed off it. I picked you up and hugged you, remaining strong and smiling. I know tomorrow I'll drop you off wearing strength on my face and sorrow inside. But my sorrow is mixed with the purest joy in the world. This is such an exciting stage of your life; it's your time to shine and have fun. That's all I want for you – happiness. Yes, I'm sad you are growing up way too fast, but growing up is inevitable. I'm so grateful for the time we've had, for the bond we'll forever have, and for this transition into toddler-hood.
To your teachers: I am lending you my heart. Please handle with care, kindness, love and compassion. Comfort his tears and rejoice in his accomplishments. Practice positive reinforcement. Be patient. He's my everything.
To my sweet Nicholas. You'll be fine. I'm sure this transition will be harder for me than for you. I won't be around to stop you from getting dirty, so have at it. Make a mess. Make new friends. Grow, learn, and shine, my little one. And know mama loves you more than anything. Your dad and I are so proud of you.
Please remember to wash your hands.
I love you,