Kindergarten is days away, and at the moment I feel as though I'm bracing myself to send you off to war rather than down the street where you'll be up to your elbows in glue and yarn and and writing your letters and showing everyone else how you already know how to count to 100. To say I'm a mess is an understatement.
I knew I would be emotional when this day came, but I really didn't know why or what for. My mom used to be teary eyed and sappy every year when the first day of school arrived. I would roll my eyes when she wanted a picture and I thought she was kind of riduculous for crying because I wasn't sad or scared even - it was just school. What was the big deal? I never asked her about her tears, but if she were alive now, I would. I'm curious what they were about. I would want to know what was going through her heart and mind as she sent me off every year in my new clothes and fresh supply of pencils and notebook paper.
There were tears for you last night - I wept. Oh did I weep. I cried because it feels like these five years have flown by and I'm afraid I missed something. I'm afraid I missed too many opportunities to play with you and I'm afraid that I didn't tell you I loved you enough or taught you all that you needed to know before I sent you off to school. I'm afraid I missed you or I missed something and I haven't adequately prepared you for this new 13 year-long adventure.
But I cried mostly because I am scared. I cried because of the things that could happen, of the things you might hear or see. I cried because I want to protect your precious heart from the cruelties and the harsh people of the world. I cried because I remember some of the hard things about school. How I never felt like I belonged, how I was left out. How I was picked last for kickball every single time, how I always felt like a nobody. And the one time I hid in the bathroom the entire lunch period because I had no one to sit with and hiding in the bathroom stall felt less embarassing than sitting alone in the cafeteria.
Going to school is all parting of growing up, and I know that. There are so many lessons to be learned - and not just about long division or grammar. But about people and kindness and hard work and friendship and respect and teamwork and learning who we are, even if it's spending 45 minutes in a bathroom stall wondering why you don't have the guts to sit by yourself and read a book or something. There are so many things that I know I could never teach you all on my own because you have to live and experience them all for yourself. I know everything will shape and grow you, but it's the harder things I dread. The lies that will come from kids at school or the things you might be exposed to that are harmful. If I found out you had been bullied or picked on, I can imagine myself coming undone wanting to fight for you. I care so very deeply about your heart and I wish I could protect it from ever feeling hurt by anyone.
I realized last night as I sobbed and went through a box of tissues, that I don't fully trust Jesus with your heart. I think I still have a hard time trusting Him with my own because He allows us to be hurt and wounded and broken. And while I have realized it's in those places I've come to need Him the most and it has shaped who I am now, I don't know how I am supposed to watch you get hurt when the time comes. And I know that it will - it's supposed to. I guess this is the part of parenting that is absolutely gut-wrenching because I have to hold more loosely to you than ever before. As you continue to grow up, I know that I will have to always be letting you go piece by piece. I have to trust that Jesus will meet you in the places that you need Him most. I have to trust that everything that happens in and around you will be worked together for good like He promises.
There is nothing I desire more for you than to know Jesus - really, truly, deeply know Him. And while I want you to be well-liked and successful and enjoy school, I want you to know Him more than I want any of that for you too. Those are hard words to write. They are true, but they are hard.
As I think about Monday and dropping you off for your very first day of school with your Spiderman backpack and your Star Wars lunch box, I couldn't be more proud of who you are and who you have already grown to be. You are kind and smart and tender-hearted and silly and adventurous. You are my firstborn and perhaps I will always see you as this little bundle of perfection, the child I prayed for and who made me a mommy.
Maybe my mom's tears were about the same thing as mine are for you. I think she was proud of me too. I think she was amazed at how fast time was flying by and how quickly her baby was growing up. I think she cried because she knew she had missed me and missed a lot of somethings and she couldn't go back in time and do it all over. Maybe she was scared too of all I would feel or hear or see and she hated that she couldn't protect me from any of it.
You may never read this or you may be a grown man before this finds you, but I just wanted you to know all of this. How proud I am of you. How scared I am. How much I love you and wish I could protect you from every awful thing. And how hard it is for me to trust Jesus with your heart, even though I know that He does the best job of anyone when it comes to our hearts.
I know you're going to rock this school thing. Go be you, son. Be the kind, amazing, boy that you are. Make everyone laugh and show everyone how smart you are. Help others and don't leave anyone alone at the lunch table. Be brave and have fun and do your very best. I will always, always, be so very proud of you - no matter what.