She ignored me. On purpose, of course. She welcomed my son with a warm voice and with a gentle, "come with me." I followed behind them as she led him into her classroom and showed him his tote bag, his spot on the carpet, and his cubby. He seemed to forget I was there. I kissed my daughter's forehead, grateful for her snuggly body wrapped in the ring sling. I watched my son lean over the table, watching his teacher carefully write his name on his tote bag, and then I saw him look into her eyes with the same awe and admiration he has for me. She told him to explore, to go find the games, the play kitchen, the blocks. He did. He looked like he was thrilled to be there, like he'd been waiting to go to pre-school forever and now the day was here.
She talked to me then for an hour about policies, about procedures, about fire drills and recess rules. I nodded, I validated her, I hugged my daughter again.
We left an hour later, with my son clutching his new tote bag and chatting away about all the things his teacher had in her classroom. The first day wasn't for a couple of weeks, but I already had to wipe away a tear. My son is so excited for preschool and so ready to go. He talks about it every day. I hope his first day is as good as his orientation day. I don't want him to cry. I don't want him to be sad. I want him to confidently, easily go into that classroom, have a great time, and learn things I've never thought to teach him.
But now he'll have a whole life outside of me and our house. He'll have hours in his day that I won't understand or know about. He'll be able to filter what he tells me; I won't know what he doesn't choose to share.
He's growing. It's all wonderful. It's how it's supposed to be. But that doesn't mean I won't wipe away a tear on that first day, when hopefully he says, "Bye, Mommy!" and goes in to find his special animal that matches his chair, cubby, and carpet square. He may not turn around to see if I'm still there.
But I'll probably hang around in the lobby for a few minutes before I force myself into my car. I'll give my daughter a kiss and hug her, happy to have her with me. I'll keep my phone on, just in case. But I will also know, deep down, that my son is getting older, growing up. And that he's starting a new life, his school life. A life where I will play a supporting role, not a main role. And I'm going to let go. I'm going to let it happen. Because that's how it should be. I'm so proud of his confidence and his independence.
But I'll continue to lie down with him in his tent and pretend we're looking at the stars. I'll still read to him in silly voices and go along with his games when he imagines he's a squid, an elephant or a lion. I'll still be his number one fan, his cheerleader, and I will love him more than I can ever put into words.
And I'll get to his school at least a half hour before pick-up in the first few days. Just in case.
Sarahlynne loves writing as a Parenting Guru. She is also the co-founder of merelymothers.com, a website that discusses all things parenting.