“We’re going to be a little sad when you go to kindergarten,” I said to my five-year-old son at dinner one night a few weeks before school started.
His lip quivered.
“Oh honey! You shouldn’t be sad about growing up.” I paused, trying to figure out how to explain this. “Mommies and daddies get a little sad about their kids growing up. We know you’ll never be babies again. But we also love watching you grow up so much.” I smiled, then got up and hugged him in his chair.
What I didn’t tell him was this:
We’re sad because we remember resting you on our chests for the first time, skin-to-skin, feeling your warmth against ours.
We’re happy because now we can squeeze you oh-so-tightly without being afraid you’ll break.
We’re sad because we remember you struggling to roll over, wiggling on your back like a tiny turtle.
We’re happy because on the playground, you call out “Watch this!” and leap from platform to platform.
We’re sad because we know we’ll never rock you to sleep again, even though those nights could be so terribly long.
We’re happy because we can snuggle and tickle you when you hop into our bed on Saturday mornings.
We’re sad because we remember your unsteady first steps running towards us and catching you in a hug.
We’re happy because you dance to your own beat wherever you want without caring what anyone else thinks.
We’re sad because those first words of yours were such a big deal that we wrote down and celebrated every single one.
We’re happy because now you tell us all about your day, tell nonsensical jokes, and even spin elaborate stories.
We’re sad because we know when you step on that bus, all of those times will have come and gone, never to come again.
But we’re happy because there will be so many new memories, so many new experiences and so many new things to celebrate together in the future.