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She sat on the third step from the bottom, the same place as last year this time, with her striped backpack beside her and she smiled. She smiled a big three year old smile and I realized just how much difference a year makes. Her mother and I gave her more than enough kisses and hugs before leaving the house then twice that many once we arrived at the preschool.

I walked her in and felt the wet tears on my shoulder as her arms gripped tighter around my neck. For the first time in her life, I was the one to initiate our parting and it hurt. It hurt as the teacher pulled her away offering distractions of toys and books and stuffed animals with names and it hurt to leave her in tears yet I did it anyway.

I spent the rest of the morning in a carousel of parenting emotions… worry and reassurance and fear and anticipation… all rotating and spinning within a restless mindset. I often wonder if other parents experience the same up and down rollercoaster ride of feelings and self doubt. Surely, I can’t be the only one trying my best and questioning if it’s good enough every step of the way.

I remember when my wife told me she was pregnant and I remember crying from the sheer weight of responsibility that entailed. I remember coming to terms with the life changing realization of having a child and I remember crying from the overwhelming excitement that followed. I remember seeing her face for the first time and I remember being so paralyzed by her beauty that I couldn’t cry at all.

When school let out, her mother and I wrapped our arms around her and buckled her in taking her to the toy store and for ice cream, the kind with sprinkles and white chocolate chips per her own request. Attending preschool a few days a week is the right decision for us and as last year ended, that couldn’t have been more apparent yet we want her to enjoy it so the first day is (and will probably always be) something special.

We sat around a small table and asked how her day was between spoonfuls of cold comfort and listened to every detail she offered us. The size of the playground and the abundance of new books and then she looked at us both and said with a frown… I cried in the beginning. I assured her it would be okay, and I’m comfortable it will be, because I remember all too well what crying in the beginning feels like.

2 comments

  1. I just read this as a follow-up to this year's first day of preschool. I remember that day so well, and it brings tears to my eyes also as I remember her crying in the beginning, and yet how fiercely independent she was even then. I loved watching her develop over the year, and am so proud to watch her as a girl, not a toddler any longer, enjoying herself every day in her new class. She's a treat to see! Jeanie

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    1. Thank you! That means more than you know.

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