To My Daughter on the Eve of Kindergarten

To My Daughter on the Eve of Kindergarten,

We met your teacher. We explored your classroom. You looked for your cubby, checked out the books, did a few puzzles to make sure you haven't lost your edge since Pre-K. Together we found the cafeteria, the music room, and the all-important potty. 

Your eyes filled with wonder as you discovered your school has its Very. Own. Library. Just for kids. Without prompting, you asked the librarian, "Would you please show me where to find the books that are appropriate for my age and reading level?" 

This time the librarian's eyes grew big with surprise as she listened to you. In reply she asked, "How old are you?" 

"Five," you offered a reply with both words and fingers. "And three-quarters." 

I stood beside you and watched you make your grown-up request. You were polite, direct, well-spoken. You made eye contact. I wondered when you had officially owned the word "appropriate" as a staple in your vocabulary.  I smiled as you ran towards the wall the librarian pointed out for you. You grabbed a book, and plopped down on your belly on the colorful rug to read. Blissed out on books. Completely lacking in self-consciousness. I've always thought of you as your own little person, but watching you there I could feel you shifting before me.

Truth be told, I've been emotional off and on for a few weeks. I have lived every day with you up to this milestone moment, yet I still can't believe we are one sleep away from your first day of kindergarten. As I tucked you in tonight, I got a little teary though you didn't notice. We talked about what tomorrow will look like. You always love to know what the plan is, and I'm happy to give you that safety. As we snuggled, you admitted that you are feeling scared. "What if I don't make any friends?" You buried your face into me. This was the first fear I've heard from you about the big transition from your sweet little preschool of three years to this new big kid school. I let you have your feelings while also offering reassurance and guidance. I thought about my own excruciating social experience in school. I reminded myself that my story is not your story. Mothering is a slippery slope.

Your new mermaid backpack sits ready for its first voyage. The school supplies are taken care of. Your uniform hangs on your closet door with the headband you chose, adding your personal flair like you do. Tomorrow morning we will walk a few blocks and see you to your classroom. The world awaits you. I have no doubt you are ready, fears and all.

It would have been easy to write about all the feelings, about remembering you the day you were born, the three am feedings and sleepless nights, wishing time would stop and how the house won't be the same without you here all day. And while some of that resonates, mostly I sit in awe of you. Your joy. Your bravery. Your honesty. Your moxie. Your brain. Your agency. Your imagination. Your unwillingness to be anyone other than your fantastic self. 

You told me today that when you grow up you want to be a rock star, paramedic, singer, scientist, princess. That sounds amazing, regardless of how it makes me feel tired for you. Go for it. I hope you'll always trust me with your dreams and fears, your giggles and surprises, your victories and struggles, your heartbreaks and hopes. I will be here, watching you shine, cheering you on. When you need it I will be your safe place. And I will always remember you when, but I love being in the right now with you.