YOU DON’T. YOU STRAP HER BACK IN AND PEEL THE HELL OUT OF THERE LIKE THE SCHOOL IS ON FIRE AND INFESTED WITH SNAKES AND SPIDERS.
This day came much quicker than I anticipated. Two years quicker, to be exact. I dropped my babiest baby off at preschool for her first day. I figured there are a few other moms out there who did the same thing this morning, or will in a few days, and needed to know their ridiculous tears aren’t the only ones making puddles in the parking lots.
How DO you drop your babiest baby off at preschool for her first day?
It all starts the week before. When you are getting all of your kids’ school supplies and rummaging through strewn pencil boxes and composition notebooks and looking for that stupid yellow-plastic-three-pronged-with-pockets folder (is it just me or does that sound similar to a Starbucks order? “I’d like a grande-with-whip-decaf-upside-down-caramel-macchiato. With pockets.”). You see the lunchboxes hung on a wall and realize your babiest baby will be eating lunch at preschool and will need something for her lunch to travel to school in. The anxiety starts setting in. The lunchbox you choose will be the lunchbox she eats her food from next week. WHEN YOU’RE NOT THERE TO FEED HER. Your eyes well up with tears and your nose does that God-forsaken tingly crap as you try to hold it together. This lunchbox will be no ordinary lunchbox. This lunchbox will scream “MOMMMMY LOOOOOOVES YOOUUUUU MY SWEEEEEET BAAAAAABY, PRETEND ITS ME FEEDING YOU I MISS YOU AND WANT TO KISS YOUR FACE OFF RIGHT NOW!!!!” So you pick the cutest most adorable print that you know will send that subliminal message to her every day.
The night before you drop her off, you’re in denial and self-preservation mode. Your to-do list is a sanity saver. You have to pick out her first day outfit, and it has to match or complement her older sister’s first day outfit. Because pictures, duh. Then you have to pick out a change of clothes for her to send in in a gallon zip lock bag (which you don’t have, so now a Target run is on your to-do list… and you’re not sad about that, hello). You have to label every one of her diapers (heaven forbid they accidentally put a Pampers on her rear instead of my knock-off Luvs), label her bib, label her paci clip, label her lunch box, label her soul. Then you have to make four lunches. While you’re rolling ham slices up and cutting strawberries into bite sizes, you mutter under your breath how you should have bought stock in ziplock storage containers and go-gurt. It’s eleven at night, but you know what? Your Keurig needs de-scaling. It doesn’t have to be done tonight, but in actuality, it has to be done tonight. Because it keeps you up later. And if you don’t go to sleep, tomorrow won’t come. And you won’t have to actually drop your babiest baby off at preschool. While your nose hairs are slowly burning off to the rancid stench of white vinegar running through your Keurig (seriously, how is coffee ever going to taste good coming out of THAT again) and you seriously consider just buying a new coffee pot just to not deal with that smell… you realize you haven’t eaten dinner. You’re five, so you bust out the Frosted Flakes you just impulse-bought at the check-out line at Target. You have no to-dos left, but you’re a professional piddler, so you start SnapChatting with your friend while watching Friends and lolololololololing at each other’s beard filter snaps. You’re an adult, but the two of you looking like crosses between Flynn Rider and Jesus- you’re absolutely howling.
The first day arrives. Somehow, the Sand Man found you, and now it’s 6:45 and all the creatures are stirring, even the mouse. You get up and get dressed and put your war paint on. Warning: you should probably skip the eye make-up today. But you didn’t skip it, because you go nowhere without seventeen applications of mascara and your winged eyeliner. You go to your babiest baby’s room and see her ragamuffin hair across her face and you scoop her up to snuggle her one last time before she’s officially a preschooler. But she wants none of the mushy, she wants her paci that she threw out of the crib and to get down and run to her milk in the kitchen. After she eats, you get her dressed and fix her hair for school. YOU FIX HER HAIR FOR SCHOOL >insert 912034 crying emojis here< You get all four kids out the door to take pictures. Your expectations were clearly too high. Baby just wants to run to the car and falls and scrapes both knees, four year old won’t look at the camera and keeps lifting her dress to wipe her nose, the older two start playing in the dirt. Just wave the white flag and pile them all into the car and figure the pictures out at school. You drive to the elementary school and pray with your kids, asking God to bless ALL OF THEM at school and the tears start. The older two hop out with a quick kiss, and it’s just you, the car, and two miles to the preschool. If you take a left, you can just go home and pretend preschool doesn’t exist. If you take a right, you have to put your big girls panties on and do the preschool thing. Your heart says left, your steering wheel turns right.
You’ve arrived at school early. Your four year old is running amuck in the car, excited about going back to school. Your babiest baby is hollering “I want out!!!! I want out!!!! OUUUUUUTTTTTTT!!!!” But first you text your sister the only photos you have so far, and text your friend who is dropping her twin boys off for their first day of Kindergarten. You finally get out to attempt some more pictures on a pretty bench near the school. You cannot get over how your babiest baby looks simultaneously huge and teeny with her humongous preschool knapsack and lunchbox. The main doors open, and the director and assistants welcome you with a hearty “Good Morning! Welcome back!” and you plaster a fake smile as you walk by. You drop off your four year old first. It’s her last first day of preschool ever. And you want to have all the feels about it, but she’s so excited and ready she hardly glances at you while she darts toward her new best friend, Ms. Sara. You literally have to make her come back to you for a kiss, and she gives you one on the fly-by, all but telling you “BYE FELICIA” and disappears into her class.
It’s time. Do you run out the door and strap your babiest baby back in and floor it, or do you hold yourself together, put one foot in front of the other, and go drop her off?
One foot in front of the other. You take her to her class, drop her bag on a hook, put her lunchbox in the bin, give her a kiss and a hug, and put her on the floor… and you walk out. You hear her crying, and it’s all you can do to make it the bathroom to shut yourself in a stall to sob your eyes out. You aren’t ready for this. You don’t want to do this. It is literally breaking your heart to pieces. It’s a new chapter of a book you weren’t planning on reading yet- but the pages are turning and you have to keep up. It’s how your life is right now. A lot of changes, a lot of new things- changes and things you never dreamed of and were prepared for. You don’t know what will happen down the road, but you do know today. You know that today, you put one foot in front of the other and you walked your babiest baby to her class, and you put one foot in front of the other, and walked away from her class. You collect yourself after several minutes of sobbing, and you blow your nose, and you keep it together long enough to put one foot in front of the other all the way to your car. The second the door closes, you put your hands to your face as hot tears escape and find their way through your fingers. You wonder if you will ever get used to dropping her off. If you will ever not cry walking away from her. If driving off will ever not rip your heart out of your chest.
You put the car in drive. And you leave the parking lot. You know your baby will have so much more fun at school with structured and intentional learning and playtime, rather than at home with you telling her to go play with a spoon for two hours. You go meet up with a friend who is an elementary-empty-nester and cry your eyes out with her. You grab breakfast and decide to go back to her place to eat because even your frequented Chick-fil-a can’t handle all the tears you would be leaving there. Then you go home with the intention of cleaning your teeth with fury for your afternoon dentist appointment. Or cleaning up. Or taking a shower. Or going to the grocery store. But by the time you pull in, you already know you’re going to sit down and write. That some Mama out there needs to know she’s not alone this morning, this week. It’s confirmed when you walk in and see your babiest baby’s giraffe wubbanub paci and itty bitty pig jammies the moment you walk in. This post is brought to you by fresh tears and a frosted coffee from CFA.
You may be dropping your first child off at school today, or your second, or your last. You may be walking your only child into Kindergarten. You may be starting your first day at homeschool with your little one. Or you may be dropping your child off to daycare on your way to being a working mom. Or you may be leaving your infant with a babysitter for the first time so you can run some errands. This season of life, with little ones, is bittersweet. We are so excited for their next adventure, their next milestone. But every step they take in independence, is another step away from needing us. We rejoice in their accomplishments, but if we are honest, it breaks our hearts. Some things we never get closure for-it happens before we realize it and we never got to cherish that one last time… such as the last nap in the crib. If your baby climbs out of the crib, you put her in a big girl bed. You didn’t really get to treasure that last nap, because you didn’t know it was going to be that last nap in the crib. Some things, we know the chapter is ending and the anticipation alone can threaten to kill us. I have literally cried every time I have thought about my baby starting preschool. Not just watery eyes; big fat my-life-is-over tears that make me change my shirt. And some things- we don’t know if they are temporary situations, or indefinite. But we feel God calling us to do them. So we do. Often, in blind faith, not knowing the outcome, but trusting the One who does. One foot in front of the other. We can’t always see the next step, but God is faithful. If we walk in obedience to Him, He will be a lamp unto our feet, a light unto our path, and will make our paths straight. Even when it looks like a dead-end. God can make a way where there is no way, and is able to do exceedingly and abundantly more than we can ask or imagine.
Mamas… just know you’re not alone. If it’s drop off day or you’re struggling with a health scare, or your finances are in shambles, or if things in your life seem to be unraveling… you aren’t alone. Sometimes you just want to run the other way, even when you know you’re called to move forward and face it head on. Whatever you’re facing today, the Lord is with you and will guide you as you put one foot in front of the other in faith. And if those steps lead you to Starbucks or Target, well then, AMEN AND AMEN. God is with you, God is for you. You can do this. One foot in front of the other.
From my trench to yours,
“I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19