A Little Bit Sad, A Little Bit Excited


I’ve been avoiding the topic of sending Lainey to school next year partly because we haven’t really decided what we’re going to do but more so because, when I think of waving to my child every morning and wondering what she’s doing for the seven hours that follow, my chest feels heavy and I start doing that ridiculous thing I do where I imagine life as a movie montage. On Golden Pond is playing while my girl is walking away from me—slow motion, of course, because that’s how it happens in imaginary movie montages. Two skinny braids are woven into her hair and tied with ribbon, and overpowering her tiny frame is a large yellow back pack. She is waving for me to come with her–whispering that she wants me to stay–and I tell her I wish I could. Finally the screen fades as I hold back the tears that I pray she doesn’t see. So yes—I avoid the topic. And yes, I kind of want to slap myself for being so sentimental. But that’s how you end up when you were the kid who asked your dad to put sad music on because you “needed to cry.”

Today we visited kindergarten—in our second baby step (first was kindergarten round-up last month) toward whatever it is we’re going to do next year. Which, right now, looks maybe like real school.

She was nervous on the way there. I could tell because when I looked in the rear view mirror, she was biting her lip and fiddling with the broken elastic part of the car seat cover. She caught my eye and smiled, and I told her how much fun this was going to be—lunch with friends, recess outside, and the best part—bunk bed lofts in the kindergarten classrooms.

I’ve never been so completely aware of the way my daughter’s hand fits in mine than I was today, as we walked across the parking lot together, her grip clearly signaling that she needed to borrow a bit of my confidence. I shared it with her with my smile, a skip in my step and a subtle tightening of my own grip on her sweaty little hand. It’s okay. I’m right here.

Large round visitor stickers indicated the fact that we didn’t really belong at this school and strangely, I found comfort in that. We’re not here yet. I still have time.


They’re little, those kindergarteners. Too small for such a big school if you ask me, and yet I’d suggest you don’t ask me these kinds of things because I’ll throw your question into a movie montage and one piano sonata later, we’ll all be crying.

I recognized two kindergarteners immediately–kids of friends–and they smiled and ran to me, proudly dragging their writing journals with them. I opened a journal. There was a full paragraph of sweet six-year-old penmanship. Capitals and periods and lots of big words in between–things about amphibians and how frogs are cold-blooded and like to swim in water. I read it aloud to Lainey, praised the student and inwardly marveled at how amazing young minds are. But mostly I loved how confident these children were.

She stayed close to me, making sure some part of her body was touching mine at any given moment. She followed my cues, so I made it a point to be happy. Enthusiastic. Relaxed. Peaceful. Open to new experiences.

I watched her absorb every moment, every student, every little event I knew she was storing to discuss later. Things like how the teacher claps a rhythm to get the kids’ attention and how they respond with a respective clap, clap, clapclapclap. Or the impressive school store we passed in the central pod–a hinged board with pockets full of colorful erasers, pencil tops, small toys and treasures. She pretended not to enjoy the way the teacher called students to line up by the color of their shoes, and I pretended not to notice when she smiled at the boy in front of her who bent over and shook his head to make another boy laugh.

On the way to lunch, we stopped to peek in the music room where an older class was rehearsing a song. Lainey and I immediately recognized it as a song we play at home–Katy Perry’s “Firework.” We stood there alone–me and my little girl–as we pressed our faces against the glass door and watched the music teacher guide the crowd of little bodies with sign language motions. We couldn’t see their faces, but we saw their backs, their arms raised and their hands swaying in the air; we heard their voices.

Own the night like the Fourth of July. Show them what you’re worth. Boom, Boom, Boom. Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon.

I felt hot tears brimming, and I quickly wiped them before my girl who needed my confidence looked up to notice.

We ate lunch at a round table with six other kindergarteners. It felt strange and exciting at the same time. Maybe I overcompensated for her uncertainty, making mention of how great every little thing about school is. Like sporks in the cafeteria.

Thank you Emerson and Noelle for making Lainey feel so comfortable. xo

There was recess. And library.



And, funny as it may be, a school carnival today–as if timed by some divine intervention to convince my kid that kindergarten equals festive merriment and pink sugar.


The principal invited us to his office where he told Lainey he’d watch out for her next year. He let her pick out two trinkets from the treasure box and told her “Take two” when she reached in the jar of peppermint sticks. As we walked back to the parking lot, she held my hand with much more ease, her shoulders relaxed, her smile subtle yet present.

I’ve made lists of pros and cons of both public and home schooling. Truthfully, I am an advocate of both and more important, I am an advocate of the fact that–like breast feeding vs. bottle or sleeping alone vs. family bed–there isn’t a wrong answer. My children will learn to fly in whatever environment in which they are placed because we will support them. Of this I am confident. I also remember that we can change our minds, we can reassess, we can listen to all those quiet cues our children send to tell us exactly what they need, and we can respond accordingly. We will make a decision for our children based on what we feel is right for them and for our family, and we will make it work.

Really, I think we’re just feeling very nostalgic right now, and we need to dwell here a little bit. It’s an interesting crossroads as yesterday was Austyn’s last day of high school, and Brandyn’s last day of middle school follows next week. We’re very aware of the growth charts in our home and all the notches that have been filled in–Austyn and Brandyn’s in black marker on the inside of their bedroom doors, Lainey and Nella’s on vinyl banners that hang on their bedroom walls. That’s a lot of notches.

My laid-back husband who doesn’t express emotion much walked into the bedroom this morning, his eyes full of tears. “This is so hard,” he whispered. “I remember Austyn’s first day of kindergarten.” He stopped and looked at the pictures of Lainey on my computer screen. “He was this big,” he added, holding his hand out, mid-thigh. I watched him fold blankets that didn’t need to be folded, giving himself something to do to distract his sadness–so characteristic of him. “I like things the way they are. I want everything to stay the same,” he concluded.

He continued to fold things–anything–and I didn’t say much because I know there’s not much to say. But I wait for it–that moment of truth that I know will arrive because, hey–you can’t be married to a unicorn lover and not eventually see the good.

And it comes. Quietly.

“There’s good ahead,” he whispers.


Growing hurts. I know this well.



New seasons bring new challenges but also new colors, new fruit, new things that fill us with wonder–things we maybe didn’t recognize before.

A little bit sad and a little bit excited tend to compliment each other quite nicely. And that’s exactly where I am right now, on the brink of a good summer with memories to be made.



Happy Weekend.

Friday Photo Dump:

Friday Phone Dump photos are taken on the Instagram iPhone app (free) and dropped into a 12×12 collage using a photo editing software (Photoshop Elements works). I am @etst (enjoying the small things) on Instagram if you care to follow the feed.


Leave a Comment
  1. This was amazing. My sweet, little, big boy is going to kindergarten this year and you absolutely nailed the emotions with “a little bit sad a little bit excited”. Thanks for always knowing what to say to make a mama feel better. xoxo

  2. My heart hurt for you as I read this. It’s hard to let them go, even when you know it’s good for them.
    We actually just brought our boys home to do school last year. Not because anything was wrong with their school or their teachers. We loved their school and all their teachers were wonderful! But it was what’s best for our family right now. I’m glad you know it’s okay to change your mind :)


    My oldest graduated from kindergarten yesterday; I am a ball of nerves and nostalgia.

    This post was beautiful.

  4. Keller….you wrote the words on my heart exactly regarding sending my oldest baby to kindergarten next year. Glad to know I’m not alone….and I agree, good is coming. Hard, but good!

  5. A little tear and nodding my head in agreement. I am famous for not being ready for change, for the next step. Sometimes it takes a little extra time, but you’ll get there. We always do. Hugs.

  6. My oldest is starting kindergarten this year. It seriously feels just like brought him home from the hospital! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on how hard it is to watch your child grow up. The transition to the next phase is always a challenge. Once I feel like I have one phase under control, then it’s time to move on to the next thing. That’s the hard part of this parenting gig. Good luck and enjoy every moment this summer, we plan to!

  7. I dont often comment, however after reading this, I’m sitting in the airport with big fat tears about to explode. As I just finished my University degree, I’m flying to the other side of the country for a job, I am very aware of the transitions in my life and how quick I’ve grown up. I cant imagine how my Mom feels. I’m thinking of you Kelle as your big girl continues to grow and your family rallies through transitions.

  8. What a beautiful post. My little girl will finish 1st grade this year. I sincerely applaud your willingness to explore the options. While I would love to keep my girl home, gently molding her mind and experiences. It has been so good for her confidence to set out on ‘her own’ each day. She has her place at school, where she makes the memories I wanted her to make. Playground antics, even some playground bullies, that have shown me that sending her to school is making her so strong. She has experiences that I could never give her. You will be an amazing class Momma. :)

  9. Tears welling in my eyes. Knowing how you feel. Sent my little 2 and half year old to pre-school last August and it hurt, but she has grown and is just more and more amazing each day. Sending you a huge hug and knowing decissions like this is hard.

    Kristin <3

  10. My youngest daughter is starting Kindergarten after the summer and I feel so sad about it. While I was sad when my oldest started, there’s something so much harder about sending off your baby. Knowing that this is the last time I will ever have a Kindergartener makes me want to weep. But change is good & I keep telling myself that I will be okay.

  11. Hi Kelle!

    This post couldn’t have come at a better time for me because my oldest daughter (I have three!) will be starting school next year as well. My husband and I are finding it very hard. If we could afford it I would stay home and home school, but unfortunately it’s not an option for us. It’s nice to know that we are not alone in how we feel! Thank you so much for your wonderful, encouraging words.

  12. Hi Kelle!

    This post couldn’t have come at a better time for me because my oldest daughter (I have three!) will be starting school next year as well. My husband and I are finding it very hard. If we could afford it I would stay home and home school, but unfortunately it’s not an option for us. It’s nice to know that we are not alone in how we feel! Thank you so much for your wonderful, encouraging words.

  13. I had to take several breaks reading this… because I couldn’t see the screen through my tears! Oh Kelle, I so, so understand. My eldest is heading off to kindergarten in the fall as well. I know well the mix of pride – wanting them to succeed and grow their wings… and the other side, the side that just wants them to stay little forever. Stay home where we can make sure (or try our hardest anyways!) that their little hearts never get broken. Good luck with your decision and transition! :)

  14. Oh this is a difficult time, I remember it well. I remember not being able to get my daughter into the school I wanted, because we lived JUST outside the encachment area.

    Kelle, I have a daughter who has a learning disability due to a chromosome anomaly, an 8q24 duplication. It has been a very big struggle in the school system, since grade 1.

    I have a tutor for her, have summer home schooled her and have spent hours upon hours, giving her the education she deserves but is not getting in the school. I know I could give her a better one on one education than the school,(teachers seem to have to do more parenting and take dicipline action than teaching in many cases!) I am an advocate for home schooling as well as public. However, I could not give her, or teach her everything else that she does get from school. For now, I am more than willing and able to teach my daughter above and beyond. Like Nella, I know that life skills will be more important for my girl than fractions and long division!

    I just finished reading your book and loved it by the way, bravo to you :) I am sure Lainey will flourish in school! You will flourish too, with the next chapter of growing girls!

  15. Sending your little ones to kindergarten is bitter sweet. I have gone through it five times and I vowed not to cry . . . I didn’t the first day . . . it was the second day that I was unprepared for.

    My children: Katelyn will be a Sophomore in college in the Fall. Ryan will be in 5th grade, Cameron is 4th grade, Evan in 3rd grade and Cody in 1st grade.

    I homeschooled Katelyn for 5 & 6th grades and Ryan for the second semester of last year. This Fall, Katelyn will return to Bradley University – she commutes and our four boys will be home schooled.

    Many people ask . . . how, why decide home school. My answer – your heart tells you and you know it is right regardless if you choose regular school, private school or home school.

    Kelle, let your heart lead the way for Lainey Love!

  16. I am right there with you, as my #1 starts Kinder this fall too. She had her Pre-K graduation this week, and it was a cry-fest, although a proud, quiet one at that. I agree that it is all good, whatever choices we make for our kids…they will soar in this world if we love them and support them. Here’s to us…the new Kinder Moms!

  17. Oh god Kelle, I’m crying right now because I remember SO WELL these exact feelings — feeling like your’e handing your kid over to the unknown, to the sometimes-scary parts of life that include good and bad things alike. I remember the first morning, where he reached for my hand, which in case you don’t speak 5-yr-old-boy, means he was seriously nervous. I counted down the minutes until my son came home that first day — literally had one eye on the clock for seven hours straight. I imagined all the worst possible things: what if he felt left out? What if he felt scared, or uncertain? What if he missed me terribly? He came home perfectly fine of course, but in the past two years since he started school I’ve learned this: you can’t protect them all the time (sorry if it’s preach-y to say this…) Sometimes my son DOES feel left out, and scared. But that feeling is necessary, I think, to building confidence, and learning how to navigate the world. Those feelings do help us grow as people, and I know that sheltering my boy will not help him one bit. Knowing that, though, does not make it one bit easier for his mother — I will probably spend my whole life anxiously looking on. It’s what mothers do, I suppose. Anyway — to sum up: it’s okay to feel sad. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to feel terrified. Let yourself feel all those things, and don’t apologize for it, and I promise you (Promise!) that it will pass SO quickly, and before you know it this, like all things, will become your routine. Big gigantic hugs to you.

  18. I love how you are handling this and making the decisions and allowing room for you to change your mind if it is not working for your little love.

    I imagine that Lainey is going to blossom in kindergarten!!

    Thanks for sharing your process.

    PS… Just wondering if you shared Lainey’s 5th year book?! I don’t know if I missed it.

  19. This really made me cry….my little boy (who’ll be 5 in November)starts school this September. This very week, I too noticed how his little hand fits in mine. I’m excited about all he has ahead of him, I’m sure he’ll love school. At the same time I’m sad now that this pre-school stage seems to be zooming by so fast.

    I think your attitude towards reassessing and being open to change is just perfect. I was never home schooled and know I don’t have the patience or discipline for it myself but when I was 5 and my brother 6 my parents changed our schools because they knew we could do better and be happier. They were right!

    It’s obviously important to give these things a good go and not jump back and forth but I do think that school years should be a happy time and they’re going to be the backbone of what their lives will become.

    I’m looking forward to going through this with you and Lainey as I go through the same with Thomas as you so beautifully put into words just how I’m feeling!


  20. Brought to tears again. Your writing is so powerful! Feeling this on a number of levels—kindergarten teacher whose last day of school was yesterday, preparing to embark on some big changes, and I resonate with Brett’s quiet emotion. At school, I always say that kids with good families will adapt to whatever is thrown at them. Your girls are obviously going to soar! LOVE!

  21. About a year ago I was doing the same as you with my Kaya who I sense has a very similar personality as Lainey. I love what you said about her borrowing a bit of your confidence. Though still my shy girl, she is ending Kindie with a quiet confidence all of her own and I couldn’t be more proud!

    As we began, is how we will end, a little bit sad, a little bit excited. Sad that she will miss her friends and lessons, music class and teacher. Excited for our summer of fun!

  22. I’ve got a 2 yr old and we’re more than likely home schooling him but this post.. ah this post brought tears to my eyes.

    Thanks for sharing these moments with everyone.

  23. You completely nailed it, Kelli. Even though it was 25 years ago that my daughter started school, I can still remember every emotion you describe. Now, her baby, my only grandson is starting school in the fall. I can hardly stand it. I swear I want to go with him to be sure he is all right, but I never let him see my fear? Anxiety? What happened to my baby? Thanks.

  24. As I read, I cry, openly… How I wish to be in your shoes, how badly I wish. Last year I sent my baby to college and I haven’t stopped crying, yet. Unlike the day I dropped her off at Kindergarten, she didn’t hold my hand, she didn’t need reassurance, and as much as I hate to put this out there, at that very moment, she didn’t need me. I was the one who needed, I needed her to turn around and say “forget this” I am coming home. Sadly and wonderfully, she didn’t. That was August of last year… Today she has moved out of the safety (mom’s words) of the dorm and into her own apartment that she sub leased for the summer until she moves in with 4 new roommates this school year. This year my other baby is a senior in high school and I am just not going to go there at this moment… Kelle, enjoy your babies and mom to mom, send her to big school. Just think of all you can share each and every day when she returns to you full of wonder and awe in all she experienced on her own. You won’t regret it, but you won’t realize this until you are walking your 18 year old into college…
    Email me any time for comfort, for joy, for sadness, for anything…

    Pinks My Ink

  25. My daughter is on the brink of turning two, but this post – along with many of my good friends sharing stories such as yours recently – have me fretting about Kindergarten 3 years early. I don’t want to think that far ahead, I don’t want to think about my big girl leaving me every day to go to school. I have no idea what we’ll do when the time comes, home-school or real-school, but I don’t look forward to making the decision. I want her to stay little, and home, with me forever.

  26. Dear Friend,

    Thanks again from writing what we are all feeling.


  27. I so neede this post today :) That’s how I feel right now, a little bit sad and a little bit excited as I pack boxes to move from our home of 12 years. The place I brought my sweet twins babies home to a little over 3 years ago. The place my husband and I remodeled room by room until we got it just the way we wanted it. Not sure how to feel a new town, with new friends, maybe a little excited. I’m sure there will be many more little sad, little exited moments ahead thou. :) have a great Memorial day weekend!!

  28. Tears in eyes.
    Loved this because I can so relate. We have a roller coaster of ages in our house as well and my youngest is off to Kinder this fall.
    I have a 13 year old son and a 10 year old daughter and of course my 5 year old “baby”.
    He has been in an amazing pre school since he was 2 1/2 and has had a great jumpstart on school. He’s actually already past the sight words he would need to know for Kinder.
    So, I decided to homeschool him for Kinder and then see what we felt about 1st grade.
    My husband and I came to the decision together. I am a stay at home mom so I am going to take advantage of the time I have.
    Not everyone agrees. We have a few loud mouths that like to voice their opinions.
    But decision is made. With my other 2 it wasn’t even a question. They went to Kinder and they loved it. But things have been changing in our school system here in Texas and I would just rather wait a year.
    A huge sigh of relief has washed over me but I know it doesn’t stop them from growing. I just about cried the other day, our last day of school, my oldest will not be an 8th grader. And my daughter, going into 5th grade, where the rules start to change a bit to prepare them for junior high.
    New adventures ahead in every direction.
    Sending many thoughts your way during the emotional roller coaster of parenthood we all have to face. :)

  29. Amazing and wonderful post. Honest. Sweet. I loved it.

  30. Love the picture of you and Nella with mud masks!

    My son will be going to kingergarten in the fall. I am nervous about it as well. While he did do two years of preschool (3 days a week for 3 hours), I am having a hard time wrapping my head around him being gone 8 hours a day and alone on a big yellow school bus (which he is SO excited about riding that bus!). I guess its all normal. We love our kids and we enjoy the time with them. I knew a day would come when I had to let go, I just still dont feel ready. I know when that day comes he will do great, its just sad that for the last 5 years, its been us and now hes moving on to bigger things. Hang in there!

  31. You have no idea how well this post fits into our lives right now. We are at that crossroads, school versus homeschool, wishing things could stay the same but knowing “there’s good ahead”. My oldest is five next month, he’s Autistic and hasn’t been making progress in his special ed preschool class, so we’ve been struggling with the decision to keep him in school or homeschool, and where our next step leads us. Reading your words regarding school v. homeschool, breastfeeding v. bottle not being a right or wrong choice, just what’s best for your family, really eased my heart this morning. Thank you.

  32. Our youngest is just finishing up her kindergarten year. I’m so so sad. Happy for her, but gone are our afternoons together. I will have 2 children both in school full day and my house will be empty. Thank you for posting this- you always have the right words. I wish you the best whatever route you go, it is really such an exciting time. Suck it all in because it is gone far too fast.

  33. My daughter just finished kindergarten yesterday, and we homeschool. She did great, and I am definitely doing it again next year. I hope you’ll come to the decision that is best for Lainey and your family. All the best, Tricia.

  34. Gabe is just finishing first grade this year, but I remember that summer before kindergarten very well. Gabe was so reticent, not wanting to leave home, which both worried me and thrilled me at the same time. I loved that he loves the little safe haven we’ve created here! But he also needed to go to school and experience some of the joys and challenges brought by a classroom full of children. We made lots of fun memories that summer! Sometimes knowing that one season is coming to an end is good motivation to shake up the normal and have fun in a new way.

  35. What a great post. In a world where people cant seem to get their children into school (and out of their hair) early enough it is refreshing to see the oposite here. I to dreaded Kindergarten and I will dread high school and college. I love having my children home.

  36. I know exactly how you feel. growth hurts so good sometimes. we pour our hearts and souls into our kids, they will be fine. its us mommas im worried about.

  37. Ohhhhh. That just made me cry.

  38. This beautiful post made me sob this morning….you’ve written it so beautifully Kelle.

    Thanks for taking me back in time to Dempseys orientation day…I think I’ll always be a little sad that our other daughter never got to experience all the wonders wrapped up in a classroom, that you’ve described so perfectly.

    Only you’ll know whats right for you and your babe..everyday, I watch Dempsey with a smile, skipping through the school gate…..and she never looks back! :)

    with love
    Diana x

  39. Kelle, it has bee such a blessing to hear your story, and to see photos of your precious family. Clearly, you know how to follow your heart, don’t ever abandon it. We are told so many things that we have to do…. in regard to school don’t give your girls to the world before you or they are ready. Homeschooling, while not always easy, is an AMAZING experience. I have five daughters, from one to ten, and they have the most wonderful relationships because of the time they are together. I never imagined this would be my life…. but I wouldn’t change it for anything! Thank you for sharing your family.

  40. Oh, I know this well, too. My son is five this summer and headed to Kindy next fall… except while I was so for certain going to send him to school, the one we loved fell through, and now… well, I”ve decided to homeschool. But the time going by so fast. My daughter just had her third birthday (the day after Lainey!) and wow, three years old. I feel like I’m in a constant state of movie montage. I’m right there with you, sister.

  41. Loved this post. I cried and cried. I loved the part about Brent. I feel that way all the time; I just like things the way they are and want things to stay the same. I also do the nervous folding, rearranging, etc. But I loved the next part about how new things can also be exciting. And I love that he whispered it to you; how touching! Thank you for the Saturday morning life reflection.

  42. Ah, Kelle. Big Kindergarten hugs!!!

    I cried buckets when I dropped off my baby at Kindergarten…and her first day of middle school…and her first day of High School! LOL!! Really, it was ridiculous. I just wanted her to be okay, to have fun, to not get picked on or trip and fall…

    We all learn, we all grow… No matter what your choice is, she will do beautifully. With a family (and friends) like yours… she will soar!

  43. I so enjoy your blog

    my girls are 18 and 20 now.so kindergaten is far far away…

    your blog is always so precious

    Thank you


  44. Oh, Kelle! I don’t usually comment, but I had to. I loved this so much. It seems you and I share similar philosophies on education. You so beautifully put words to how I felt when my daughter started Kindergarten (she just finished 2nd grade!). Many tears were shed (mine, not hers), I struggled with the change, I didn’t want to let go. And yet, I believed she would thrive no matter where she was – and she did. However, there was a bullying issue, and we didn’t feel the school was meeting her needs academically. After 1st grade, and as my son was going to start Kindergarten (he has autism), we made the decision to teach them both at home. It has been an amazing year!

    No matter what you do, you’ll make it special for Lainey. She will thrive and have fun and do great things. But mama, I so understand those tears and how difficult it is to change!

  45. My boy isn’t quite two yet, the thought of him being old enough for school brings tears…can’t imagine. The pictures are amazing. You’re talented at capturing special moments.

  46. Look at the positive though. Before Nella was born you had a couple of years that you spend with Lainey alone. If you send her to school, Nella will be able to have special alone time as well.

  47. What did Lainey say about big girl school? Was she excited when it was over.. or still a bit unsure??

  48. What did Lainey say about big girl school? Was she excited when it was over.. or still a bit unsure??

  49. Beautiful! It’s all I can say :)

  50. This IS beautiful and tough all at the same time… My little guy isn’t starting Kindergarten until next year but I am already so worried about it…

    I am divorced and so I feel like there is already so much inconsistency and confusion in his life already, that the thought of him being teased or bullied or anything like that makes my stomach turn.

    BUT like you said, it is hard for EVERYONE and it is apart of life…

    Good luck. Your daughter is darling! I hope she loved it :)

  51. Growing does hurt but the excitement that comes eases the pain! Much love to your family as you transition to new stages! OXOXO Katie

  52. What a beautiful post. My children are all adults now, but I still remember their first days at school. Home schooling isn’t really “done” here in the UK, so I didn’t really have a choice. You’d be considered odd by other parents and little or no help from the Education Department…. How I wish I’d gone ahead anyway with my youngest child; he so needed NOT to be forced into “interacting with his peers”, (turns out he is Autistic – albeit mild).
    If you decide school is the way forward I’m sure Lainey is going to love it.

  53. My son has a May birthday as well, and just turned 5. My husband and I have gone back and forth on if he’s ready for kindergarten or not. We’ve finally (97%) decided that giving him one more year at his preschool will do him good. They have a pre-K part-time program. I have moments of second guessing myself. I’m starting to realize that I always will. There is no way of knowing absolutely what decision is the best… that drives me crazy and keeps me up at night. I’m just trying to go with my gut. What is your gut feeling telling you about Lainey?

  54. This made me cry. My 3rd starts K in July. I don’t remember feeling quite so sad with my first two. He has an anxiety disorder and I’m just sooo worried about him. Thankfully he has an IEP and a plan in place already, that eases my mind quite a bit. And he also has the same wonderful teacher that his brothers had. Still, that first day is going to be so hard.

    Good luck to Lainey and hugs to you and your husband.

  55. I had those same feelings when I sent my children to daycare/ preschool. It was definitely bittersweet, especially since their preschool program was so awesome. I loved the structured program so much that I really debated between public and homeschool. My family and I ultimately decided to homeschool. This was my first year of homeschooling and my son (4) and daughter (5) both just finished kindergarten. We all did great and we are definitely doing it again next year. I never imagined I would be a homeschool mom, but it has been such an amazing experience.

    I love your comparisons on deciding what is right for your family. I know you’ll come to the decision that is best for you and your family. Good luck!

  56. My son finishes kindergarten next thursday. And he told me today that next year he will be seven. It happens so fast.

    Three weeks from today, we add a new babe to our mall family. And six years from now, that babe will be graduating kindergarten.

    It happens too fast!!

  57. My youngest got MARRIED last year. I understand your pain. And your Joy!


    The two pictures of Lainey in the library almost had me crying…

  58. Oh Kelle, how you seem to just take the feelings out of my heart and put them into words!

  59. Yesterday My son and I took a tour around the local nursery and he begins in September. I’m exactly the same.. I’m excited for him because I know he will love it but I’m also sad for myself. It’s his first steps out of the house without me :(

    We’ve also been weighing up the pros and cons of public schools vs home schooling.. It’s a big decision! xx

  60. Last summer was our last before kindergarten. I felt so many of the same things you wrote. And filled the summer with family and fun. The memories got me through those first hard weeks :)

  61. Yes, I remember the first day of kindergarten with all three of my children. My first son obviously was ready; I had no option but to send him on his way to enjoy the new experiences. Second, not so much. Our first day, I promised I’d stay until he was certain he wanted to be there. It took NO time at all for him (be still, my heart) to turn around and say “You can go, Mama!” And yes, I wept. My daughter had an amazing teacher. I worked so she could go to the school she attended, and she loved it! Now, my granddaughter is 4. She is also showing readiness. As the only child up until now, she has been loving 2-day-a week preschool, but I LOVE picking her up on the one day her mama works! She is at the same school I sent her mama to, and has an equally amazing teacher. Her mama is finally pregnant with her second child, so I am looking forward to time with the new baby, but I am not looking forward to sending my granddaughter to full day school. Thankfully, she will only be in preschool in the fall, so we have time…

  62. Kindergarten IS fun. I was a teacher for many years….but we homeschool.There was just never a good reason to send him to school. We continue to be happy and enjoy every day together, and he gets a personalized education and lots of time to play and grow up at his own pace. And I just blinked and my sweet little boy is 9 years old! Have you read Hold on to Your Kids? Whatever you decide for now, your sweet baby will be fine because her Mama is looking out for her :)

  63. You’ll do great as the mom, because you’ve already proven that you listen to what your daughter needs. Stay with her if she needs you. Let her stay home if she needs that. Tell her it’s okay if she doesn’t want to go that day. Talk to her about what she likes and doesn’t like about school. I’m still deciding about whether or not we like Kindergarten (my oldest’s first year this past year, all day every day….too much, imo,) and quite honestly I think I’ve adopted the philosophy that they can decide what their schooling will be like (public, home/ a bit of both) because let’s be frank, public school isn’t the be all end all. You’ll do good, friend. Just keep listening. :)

  64. I am having a hard time too. My girl is 5 now and will be starting kindergarten in the fall, but my little man will be 3 in October- aging out of early intervention and begining public preschool. I thought I’d have special time with him while his big sister was at school and now here I am finding myself preparing to send off both my littles. Although the thought is overwhelming, I know they are excited and I will have time to do “me” things. I think I might need a new little bundle to snuggle while the kids are at school :)

  65. I’ve always enjoyed the transitions as the kids have grown and gone onto the next phase, whether it was kindergarten or college. To watch them walk away from me has really given me the most satisfaction, since I believe that’s my job. Have them ready to join the larger world, participate and thrive in whatever they try.


  66. My oldest daughter graduates from
    4K this coming Thursday and I know there will be tears. Especially because as chairperson of her preschool I will be the one to say “I now present to you the class of 2012″. I am not even a little ready for her to head off to kindergarten this fall. I’ve been struggling with it since her first day of preschool when she was 3. Reading this, I have knots in my stomach and an ache in my heart yet I feel better knowing there are so many mommies going through the same thing.

  67. Yes, the best is yet to come…we did half day kinder, so were able to ease into it. The first day of 1st grade I stood outside the room, peeking in with tears burning my eyes. Be strong, it will all be wonderful.

  68. I was right here a year ago, just with different details. My Alex was ready–oh, so ready. He was going to one of the smallest schools in town, he’d already been in preschool with some of his schoolmates, and I knew he would love it. I wasn’t ready for the emotions on that first day. His face was full of nervousness, and for some reason, I hadn’t expected that. I kissed his cheek and walked down the hall to the parents’ breakfast and crumpled into a pile of tears. His dad picked him up at the end of the day, and they called me at work. He couldn’t stop telling me how much he LOVED kindergarten, and how he had been kind of scared at first that he wouldn’t like it but that he really, really did like it a lot. Except for the puzzles center because it is “lame.”

    What I’m trying to say (in too many words, I know) is that it will be harder than you even think it will be. But it will also be even more wonderful than you expect to watch her transform into a confident and independent kindergartner.

  69. This post spoke right to me… I’ve been feeling pressure to put my almost four year old into preschool, and while I know he’ll thrive I’m not sure I want that for him yet, so I’m considering the homeschooling route for preschool, and then sending him off to public school.

    It’s so bittersweet isn’t it? It’s hard to believe how fast the years go…

  70. Loved this. Thank you for it.

  71. The little bit sad little bit excited feeling of kids starting school really hit home with me! This fall my youngest (my BABY!) starts Kindergarten and I feel a lot of sadness about it. I was nervous when my older daughter started, but have gotten used to her gone all day…I miss her, but love seeing my usually shy girl’s thriving new confidence and independence. Now, with my second I don’t feel nervous, just sad that now both my girls will be in school all day, every day. My babies that I have spent the last seven years raising and now gotta watch them fly on their own. It’s tough letting go, but you are right…there is a balance of excitement. Excitement of seeing all the hard work and love you put into them pay off as they take those first independent steps into the big school. I very much enjoyed your post today…I always do, I just found that this one fit perfectly with what has been on my mind since we registered her for Kindergarten! Thanks for sharing. And, I loved your post earlier this week about mini-bucket lists…I borrowed the “spa day” idea with my own daughters and we had such fun!!

  72. It’s good for Lainey to go to school! She will have something of her own and she can work on her independence! I was a schoolteacher of children, age 4-6 years old. They grow so much in these years! It’s really very rare to homeschool in the Netherlands. I still have some years, but I know I really want to award my girl to go to school!

  73. Love reading your blog and hearing inspiring words from a fabulous mother. I am a mother one a baby girl and a kindergarten teacher, so I know both ends.

    If you loved the school you visited, I would encourage you to try it this fall! They are all a little nervous and there are some great children’s books out there that can help with that (I can give you a list if you want!) Kindergarten is pretty magical, since it is their FIRST try at everything. First time on the bus, getting school supplies, eating lunch, etc. I am sure you would make an incredible homeschool mama, too. If you don’t like how its going, you could always try your hand at it, but I bet she will thrive:o)

    That is really neat how the kids get to go visit for a full day! We don’t offer anything like that, and it is a good idea.

  74. Oh sweet kelle, this is my favorite post you have ever written. It spoke exactly what my heart is feeling, my littles are starting kindergarten this fall and it is messing me up something fierce and my oldest is almost in middle school and it happened so quickly and it hurts me so the growing pains are too much for me sometimes they steal my breath and burn my eyes with tears, I am so not ready to release my babies into the world. I am so not ready to not run around town listening to their singing in the back seat not ready for the lost snuggles during nap time, not ready to look in the rear view mirror and not see them, oh gosh kelle it hurts so bad. Thankyou for this post Thankyou so much, now I’m gonna go ugly cry.

  75. i waited to send my oldest to K until he’s 6, he’ll go next Fall (just…cry, laugh, sob)!! although i could sit here and write out a very long list of awesome reasons for this, it comes down to me not wanting to give up my baby for a whole day until he was 6 years old. we get such a blip with them while they are tiny and i wanted to extend it out a bit. his bro won’t hit preschool until age 4 and baby tova will follow the same route. mama gets the right to these choices, even a bigger bonus if you get to homeschool, in my humble 😉

    p.s. lainey looks awesome in those overalls. did i send those too? that was a genius choice on my part! lol! man, i am tooting my own horn today!!

    hugs to all.


  76. I never really understood why my grandfather always told me he wanted to put a brick on my head to slow down how fast I was growing — until my daughter turned three.

  77. I am having a really hard time imagining you letting her go, Kelle. And this is coming from the world’s biggest baby when it comes to this type of thing. I say try it for a month, and then when you can’t handle her being gone, join the homeschooling ranks. You could have a separate little tab up there next to “selected press” and “videos” that says “homeschooling tips”…you know, like Pioneer Woman does? I think you would rock homeschooling, but you’d give it your own special flair, and pretty much revolutionize the future of homeschoolers in America. I dare you!! 😉

  78. That was a very good post! You sound like my Mum would have 11 years ago!

    When I was three, My mother couldn’t send me to school. She just COULDN’T! So, she home-schools my four younger siblings and myself.

    I love homeschooling! It is so much fun and I have such amazing experiences! I still make friends, I am a very social person but best of all, I am able to maintain a close relationship with my family.


  79. My baby is only 13 months but my chest feels heavy when I think about him going to school, too. Kelle, your words are magical and so true and heartfelt and I can totally relate!

    And please, please, share Lainey’s 5th year photo book! It is always such an inspiration. Thank you!

  80. It’s hard and I totally get what you are saying. I’ve been through it six times and it was just as hard the last time as it was the first time. The joy of seeing them blossom and grow helps you overcome the sadness with excitement but it is so bittersweet. My oldest has babies of her own but I remember her kindergarten round up like it was yesterday. My last baby is seven and she’s just growing up entirely too fast! Don’t you just wish you could push the pause button? Love your posts and look forward to them. My daughter loves to look at them because she and Lainey often wear the same clothes.

  81. As a high school teacher, I dread May – the empty blue desks, the large silent classroom, the now pristine book shelves. My room was made for laughter, for learning, for love, for kids, and oh, how I miss them! How I welcome September – the freshly sharpened pencils, new and returning students, bulging backpacks sprawled in the aisles, and crisp new journals just waiting to be filled with memories.
    As a mom, I dread September – the now empty car that only moments ago held an animated conversation about “purple unicorns in heaven with shiny silver horns and magical pixie dust”, no “smile with holes in it” grinning at me from the rearview mirror, only an “I sure love you, Mom” floating back to the open window, as my precious little kindergarten girl heads inside.
    The never ending juxtaposition between teacher and Mom; I identify with Bret – wanting my kids, all of them, to remain frozen in time – with me…..

  82. Ooooh! I so wish I could empathize!!! I mean, I DO know how YOU feel, but having two boys first, my experience was different…..they are boys & they didn’t stay close or hold my hand :( Both so confident & ready to have their own friends, their own space, their own little cubbies with their names on them. I AM thankful though, that they both still “need” me in the privacy of our own home…..”just don’t call me ‘sweetie’ or hug me in public, okay Mom?”

    Is half day kindergarten an option? I was also so thankful for that! Just 3 1/2 hours to ease mama into letting go a bit.

    Maybe a “School” theme for a next birthday party? Could showcase her classroom confidence by the time she’s ready for 1st grade :)

    And one more thing: Lainey is BEAUTIFUL! Love how you captured her in this post.

  83. Your late Friday post feel perfectly on my son’s 7th birthday today. I remember his birth like it was yesterday and I am realing today as I realize we are over 1/2 way to the teenage years. But how wise Brett is, there are good things ahead…

  84. Beautifully put. Like you say you can reassess and change if you need to. Lainey is so mature, sometimes I forget her real age, I know that I was one of those shy girls, and honestly at times I found school hard (really more in high school) but you know what, after studying for a LONG time and finally getting a job, I’ve learnt to be unshy. I have to talk on the phone all the time, lead meetings, sit on expert working groups. Even 5 years ago I wouldn’t have believed that. Lainey will be ok. I know it will hurt so hard to let her go, but in the mean time you are going to rock summer like never before. And Brett is so right. He’s so perfect for you. I love you for your honesty Kelle. Xx

  85. Beautiful post, Kelle, as always. I can tell you that I cried many August tears before my oldest started Kindergarten. I honestly did not know how I was going to do it. But, I did. And, he has loved school. I am the mom who does not make my littles attend if they are off or seem to really need me, though. And, you are absolutely right. Just because you start something one way does not mean that you cannot change. Our middle child, who has special needs is in public school right now, but we are always watching, assessing, and determining if or when to homeschool him. If we do, we might homeschool all of them or leave the other two in school. The beauty in it all, though, is that we know they are our children, and the decision is totally ours, as well. Lainey will do great no matter what you decide because she has amazing parents who love her dearly.

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  87. Ah, Kelle, these are big decisions and changes indeed …. I wish you peace of heart as you go forward.

    I’ve always homeschooled (my eldest is in college, the youngest is ten) and for our family it has consistently been the best decision. I don’t regret a single moment … the years go so fast, the children thriving and spinning ever faster into the future. I am blessed amd filled with gratitude for having been given this great good gift of being their mother.


  88. Once again, your words are like reading my own thoughts. My little boy just finished preschool yesterday and I was most definitely “a little bit sad and little excited,” trying to keep my emotions in check as he beamed his beautiful smile, so excited to be growing up and heading to “pre-K” next year. Thank you so much for your blog, I treasure reading it :) You are so wonderful with words!

  89. Our kids grow up way too fast. Have you seen Mama Mia?? When Sofie is getting married, mom Donna sings a song called Slipping Through My Fingers:

    School bag in hand, she leaves home in the early morning

    Waving goodbye with an absent minded smile

    I watch her go with a surge of that well-known sadness

    And I have to sit down for a while.

    This song makes me cry every. single. time!!

  90. No matter what both your girls will fly!

  91. I am a Kindergarten teacher and if you decide to send her rather than homeschool her, she will adjust just fine! Kindergarten teachers have a way of being half mommy/half teacher and know when to be which one to each child. I know its hard, but coming from a teacher, I just wanted to give you a bit of hope. You are a great mommy and will make the best decision for her, no matter what it is! Thanks for sharing your world with us, I love sitting down and reading your posts!

  92. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. I’m in the same place with my boy and struggling to know how to feel about it all. Appreciate your words :)

  93. School is like the first little ripple effect of letting go. It’s hard, but no matter what age….it does happen. When my oldest started middle school last year I did the ugly cry in the hallway. It just came over me. I don’t think it ever gets easier…but we press on anyway. Thinking of you a lot today:)

  94. I feel this, having just done a similar practice run with our baby number three. All those feelings are still there, no matter how many times you do it. The excitement is there as well too.

    When our oldest was born, we adopted the “never say never” style of parenting. When he started school, we developed our “exit strategy” knowing if school didn’t work out, we had other options. Eight years later, and every September, what gets us to the school on the morning on the first day, is knowing that exit strategy is always there and equally valid.

    Glad it was an awesome day. Nothing like a little cotton candy to sweeten the deal. (couldn’t resist the pun). :)

  95. They grow up so fast.
    CUte pictures, by the way.

  96. My youngest will start junior kindergarten this September and I find myself holding her hand a little tighter, holding our hug a little longer.. I know great things are ahead, but I also know how fast the time is going :(

  97. Very sweet thoughts… I know you guys will make the best decision! :)

  98. Is there half day Kindergarten offered at a school near you? I think that’s the better option for 5 year olds, especially who have not had previous school experience, like daycare or preschool. Full day just seems like so much for 5 year olds.

    But I feel you. My youngest is off to (half day) K in the fall and it makes me tear up every time I think about it.

  99. I’m feeling the same way— I’m a kindergarten teacher and my babies graduated yesterday. A little bit excited for a break, but mostly sad to be leaving the tiny little people I’ve taught, and taken care of, and loved for 10 months.

    I hope Lainey loves kindergarten!

  100. I love you so much, You always seem to express what I am feeling. My first little guy will be graduating kindergarten this year and I have another little one who will be starting school so soon. It is so bitter sweet watching your littles grow. You are so very inspiring, I can easily say that you are a wonderful role model to all the women out there who still need one. Thank you

  101. Kelle, I think this was one of your best posts yet. So heartfelt and sincere. Thank you for sharing. My heart aches at the thought of sending my own girl to Kindergarten, and I am thankful I have four more years to wait until then!

  102. I sympathize with Brett. I finished high school yesterday and all I can think is, “I want things to stay the same.” I want to be back there come Tuesday, but I can’t be, and I’m struggling right now. But I know it’s only going to get good from here.

  103. My baby boy is only 3 months old….just moving up a diaper size is hard. Ugh. :/ I feel for you… :)

    Also- I couldn’t do it in 300 words (I tried…It’s impossible to make sense in 300 words), but here is my story.


  104. Geez Kelle – you are killing me with this post. One year in and I am counting the days to the summer break. I love the bittersweet feeling of seeing how my girl has grown and thrived but the ache in my chest is still raw each morning as I wave her off and miss her all day. I know you will make the most of these memory making days xx

  105. Kelle: I have seven in various stages of transition. We had an 8th grade graduation and a high school graduation. Each one moving forward on their next step. But of course, this mom crying for what used to be.

    Lainey is going to thrive in school. She will have so many stories to tell and drawings to share. Nella will love it when big sister comes home with all her school work and the memories of them together playing school when Lainey gets home will bring you joy. Hang in there. That first day of school, take your time. Do not rush away. It took me several attempts before I left and walked back to the car. You will be so proud of her and she spreads her wings a bit and soaks up all the fun Kindergarten will be. Enjoy your summer and relax knowing that no matter what age our kids are, we parents get to fight through all these emotions whether it is Kindergarten, middle school, high school, college right along with our kids and embrace the changes with open arms and the excitement of what comes next.

  106. This was one of my very favorite posts ever. My oldest will be starting school next year and I’m constantly weighing the pros and cons of home schooling vs. public school. We are more on the public school side, and I’m terrified. I know she’ll excel, but the tears flow for me at just the mere thought of not having her with me all day, every day anymore. Like Brett, “I like things the way they are. I want everything to stay the same”.

  107. I love it! Carter is going to the big K this year too. He however has been at church preschool three days a week for three years and is ready to move on to bigger things..Momma is not. Sending him there will forever change my little man…I’m not ready for that yet. I wanted him to go to Kindergarten at the church…we let him have the final say…he wanted to go with his brother and sister at the big (public) school gulp. I cannot wait to here about her fabulous adventure’s..maybe they will parallel Carter’s!

  108. Kelle,

    “REAL SCHOOL” oh how you made me laugh! That is what my kids call traditional school too. I always say, “Yah, real school, as opposed to what we do at home, which I guess is pretend school.” Oh, how funny that you say that too!
    We have friends that hs, public school, private school, and some that send some kids and hs some kids, depending on what is best for each child.
    We hsed just because I am a whimp. I brought mine and cried every day for 10 days. At the end of the tenth day, my dh suggested that I just teach them at home. I always wonder if we made the right choice. I know others that have continued with traditional school and have always wondered if they made the right choice. I think you are right that with our love and support, barring something out of the ordinary, they will bloom where they are planted. So try not to second guess yourself. No matter what you decide, she will do great! BTW, I have also had friends that have put them in and out of traditional school for specific grades, as the child’s needs changed.
    Can you imagine how scared I am now that mine are 18-years-old. I teared-up when I dropped them off at the Community College, even though I would be picking them up only three hours later! Yep, I am still a whimp! :)

  109. Oh kelle…just make me cry! We are in our final summer before my firstborn starts public school and it is hard. I think about it EVERYDAY! I am going to miss her while she is gone all day…so much. I too want to fill each moment ofthis summer with awesome memories so when August12 comes, I can know we are filled to the brim with memories. It is so hard to let go because I know this huge step will cause our lives to go a bit faster and it already goes too fast! It helps to know I am not the only Mommy who is struggling. We all just want the best for our kids and to make the right choices. Thanks! -Mindy

  110. Oh goodness, I started crying when I read the exchange between you and your husband. I, too, wish things could stay as they are (minus wet pants and no naps and fussy days things like that!).

    My daughter won’t be five until November, so technically we have another year till Kindergarten and – though I know it will be challenging – I hope to homeschool (for so many reasons!).

    I already did a little preschool curriculum with her last year and hope to do another this year, to give me a feel for it. Good luck to you, whatever you decide, and enjoy the journey!

  111. Our four year old will be starting school in February next year and I’m absolutely dreading it. I don’t want to let her go! I can’t believe four years have gone by so quickly already, and I’m so sad about this.

    It’s always comforting to read your blog – even when your words sometimes make me want to cry in a bittersweet kind of way. :)

  112. Wow, I’m really surprised your not homeschooling! No judgements at all…I just really thought it was totally up your family’s ally!

    We have found homeschooling to be such an incredible blessing for our large brood and are grateful for the freedom to do so.

    Whatever you choose for your family I am sure Lainey will thrive and do wonderfully…you’ve been her teacher these many years and she will continue to bloom!

    (There’s that word again, bloom!)

  113. Awww, Kelle…this one made me cry. I remember sending my little boy to school at TWO because, well, that’s what they do with autism. It was hard, but a wonderful blessing for us both, and the growth has been amazing.

    While that’s not the same as Lainey’s situation, it’s still so hard to think about letting go. To think about jumping. And then, just like off the dock at the Isle of Capri, or off the high dive at the pool as a kid – you inhale, and you DO IT. And the rush is thrilling and terrifying, and yet you look back with satisfaction afterward and think, “Yeah, we did that, and it was good.”

    You’ll make the right choice either way. And if anyone is capable of successfully homeschooling a child, it’s you. But public school is good, too. Pros and cons – balance.

  114. You are so right…. there is no wrong answer. Big hugs to you as you walk this path. I am a former public school teacher who is homeschooling and loving it. I never thought I’d do it, and we take it year by year, but it is a great fit for our family right now. (My twin girls just finished first grade.)

    Your daughters are beautiful!

  115. Oh Kelle.

    Last night while crawling into bed on our boat, I snuggled myself in really close to Alex, placing her head on my shoulder. And I sat there pushing her hair back, kissing every inch of her face and each finger. Oh, how she’s grown. And even though she just turned four, I had one of those moments where all the strings to my heart tugged at the same time. I kept thinking, “one more year and then you’re off.” I was sad and sentimental, crying tears silently in the still of the night. Wistful joy. I am not prepared to see my baby go. Not yet.

    I hear ya. You’re a year closer to the decision of school than us, but you’re right – we have the right to step back and to reevaluate. Thanks for this timely post. I read it this morning and made me feel a bit better. I know that I’m not alone.


  116. Kelle…
    Your post made my day. My daughters have daughters of their own….and will be feeling the same emotions you so eloquently describe. Thanks for sharing so much of yourself.

  117. Gahhhhh!!! You always make me cry :) My oldest starts Kindergarten in the fall, too. He’s so ready, so confident, so eager… I’m sure that makes it a little easier for me. I just started your book. It makes me so excited to get into bed at night so I can read. I’ll be passing it along to a wonderful woman who has a 17 year old girl with DS.

  118. I hear ya. The old cliche of “they grow up so fast” is way too true. My baby just hit three months and it makes my head spin to think that she was still just inside the womb only a few months earlier. Part of being parents, I think, is learning to let go.

  119. We do home school both of our kids, and there are two things that I think that this post made me feel. First, it made me feel nostalgic and almost a little jealous, about some of the memories I have from my own school world…and also it made me aware that even though we home school, we still go through some of the same jitters, the same “I can’t believe how much they are growing up” feelings. Packing away the learning to read curriculum stuff for my first son and now moving into stuff he does mostly on his own. Now getting it back out again for Chloe. It’s all about growing up, and letting go, and letting them be whoever they are going to be. Whatever you decide to do for school can change whenever you want it to, if you want it to, but the growing up part…we can’t stop any of that cycle of life stuff from happening!

  120. I feel your hurt Kelle. My girl just got done with Kindergarten, last summer I felt just like you do. I’m sorry to say part of me still does…like “let’s just put her back into kindergarten…..so we can keep her another year.” I love your line, ‘growing hurts’ it perfectly describes babes going to school. Hang in there.

  121. “But that’s how you end up when you were the kid who asked your dad to put sad music on because you “needed to cry.”

    This was so me as a kid – I’m glad I wasn’t the only one. I love how you share your vulnerability with all of us in such an honest and real way. It’s amazing how much one little person can make you want to hold them close all the while wanting to see them spread their wings and fly. Good luck with your journey with lovely Lainey <3

  122. I have sent two kids to school, the first one at age 6 to an American school without her speaking a single word English (we’d just moved over from Sweden). That was a terrible ordeal, with lots of tears from her and myself. However, I’ll never forget her saying a year later “if I could manage that, I know I can do anything”. And so she has. She grew from a timid girl into a very strong and self confident girl and now a young woman who recently entered med school here in Sweden.
    This coming fall we are returning to the US with our 7 year old son and we’ll see this being repeated. I am already anxious about the stress he will encounter, but I am confident that he will, with the rest of us showing confidence and support, manage and come out a stronger person on the other side.
    How hard it may seem, I sincerely believe we must not shelter our children too much but let them suffer occasionally, constantly knowing that we as parents always will be by their side.

  123. My son is just finishing 1st grade. He is shy and anxious and my heart broke to send him to school. My daughter will be going to school after this summer and it is SO different! She has none of the same worries or anxieties. She asks every day, “when can I go to school?” She had a trial day last month and was heart broken that she couldn’t go back the next day. I think it will be easier to walk her to her classroom come August than it was with my son. Not feeling that guilt will be a nice change:-)

  124. Hi Kelle. I read your posts regularly and love your beautiful little girls. I have read through alot of these comments and they are all sweet words. After reading your kindergarten post I was a little disheartened that a principal would give candy and trinkets to a five year old to win her confidence. Not saying that your principal is a predator, but this is exactly how predators behave. How would a five yer old know the difference between safe candy and dangerous candy if her mom is not there to guide her? Just saying…..

  125. The first day-heck, the first month-of kindergarten is a heart-breaker, but to see their independence blossom repairs the hurt. She will discover new things and share them with you. She will find new friends. She will expand her comfort zone. She will be okay.

  126. Kelle! I just sobbed through this post, to the point that I had to read it in two sessions. I’ve never given home school a thought, but you absolutely allowed me to see the other side. I’m a teacher and although I cannot wait for my little one to start Kinder so that we can finally be together during the day, I know I will absolutely struggle with the ‘loss of my baby!’

    I love how you really contemplate your decisions. They are big ones!

  127. Sounds like the Mama’s heart in you is speaking.
    My Brother with DS and I were public schooled and looking back I can see how being HS would have been such a benefit to both of us! I was a soft compassionate spirit and really had to stand up for him at school. Seeing the teasing and unequality he had to endure in the PS hurt my heart deeply. There were times when, being younger, I had to choose to turn my back and that still makes my stomach turn 25 years later.
    Nobody loves your kids like you do. You are the best at putting confidence into them!

  128. I’m with Brett – I want things to stay the same – Just as they are! We don’t even have kids, but we are very close with 4 nieces/nephews and have been very involved in their lives since they were born. We love them as if they were our own. It really does make me cry to see them get older and move on – they become more independent and don’t snuggle as much or don’t “need” us as much. So we take any time we can get with them and we just make it super fun, because we know these days won’t last forever. But the memories….ah, the sweet memories we are making for them! Makes it all so worth it!

  129. I can really relate to this post. My #2 is about to start Kindergarten in the fall so you would think it wouldn’t be as emotional but it is. I was just thinking of how he will be away at school all day long come the fall. It will be weird even though I think I am ready for it.

  130. I am three kiddos down into the school arena. And it’s sad at times, but do you know how thrilling it is to see growth and excitement and leaps and bounds of goodness, because kids are meant to fly? Yeah, that.

  131. I am so sentimental & having a child has made it 10 times worse. I sent my 3 yr old to pre-k this past august & boy was that hard. We are now at the end of her 1st yr & I am so sad, but amazed at how much she has learned in such a short time. Her little personality has flourished. Letting them go is so hard, but so good for them. I tell my little one it’s okay to shed a tear, especially happy ones!! She’ll do great!!

  132. I sent my little boy to K this year and it was really difficult! He was so ready but I knew that this was it! School begins. I tried to think of the positive though and realize that it was more one on one time that I was able to have with my 3 year old! I know now that with #3 coming in a month I will have the same sad time sending her soon but at least I get some alone time with him:) Hang in there!!

  133. As a fan of yours, I am so with Patti on her comment: “You could have a separate little tab up there next to “selected press” and “videos” that says “homeschooling tips”. I think you would rock homeschooling, but you’d give it your own special flair, and pretty much revolutionize the future of homeschoolers in America.”
    Tough decisions, great rewards, either way.
    Love and hugs from Tejas,

  134. Girlfriend, you are the mom to homeschool…you would ROCK! We’re finishing up year four of homeschooling and in Sept. I start homeschooling both of my sweeties and I have to tell you…it’s really hard some days but it’s completely amazing every single day! I would not change it for all the money, freedom, clean houses, perfect hair, new clothes, etc. in the world. There is no greater joy than watching your children learn and seeing their little eyes light up when they figure something out…it is simply the best! And Florida is a huge homeschooling state, so many support groups, co-ops…you’re in the best place! Go for it, you will never regret it!!!

  135. it feels like yesterday and forever ago when i was in those same shoes with stella.
    and i’m stepping back in with cora this year too.
    gah. it’s hard everytime. with each and everyone of them.
    change sucks big.
    but there is so much good in it too. that’s why we keep doing it.
    either that or pure crazyness.

  136. Kelle,
    I never home-schooled until this year. Darby. Since she is my youngest, and I always wanted to try it anyway, AND our school recently did away with half-day Kindergarten (which, I agree with you, 5 and 6 year olds..to young! They are still babies! And being in school ALL day? I thought half-day was perfect) I thought it would be a great time to do it…and my only time! We had a nice year together, but she would have done great this year if I would have sent her to school. Whatever you decide will be awesome. She will thrive wherever…she already has. She will LOVE school, and she will love being home too!

  137. P.S…I do not think your principal meant any harm in giving out anything to the kids. Sounds like a fun principal to me! Ours goes out on the playground and pushes them in the swings, and plays soccer and other games with them. Very involved. It’s a good thing.

  138. Does Lainey know that you used to be a school teacher?

    I think… (and I don’t know anything but we seem to be taking a poll on it… haha) that learning is everywhere, informal and formal and even if Lainey goes to real school, she’ll be learning heaps from you. That said, she’s shy and you’re an incredibly busy bubbly person so I think- so long as it doesnt crush her- it will be good for you both if Lainey has her own space at school and you get some 1-on-1 Nella time (and eventually 5 mins alone to yourself on occasion)

    But like you say, it depends on each situation. But better to regret the things you tried than the things you didn’t. It’s easier to change your mind and homeschool than change your mind and do real school.

  139. Dear Kelle,
    So interesting that you chose to post this now… I just got up the courage to write about some of the difficult things we had to dealalt with on the education-front of our lives with our two oldest this year. These are some of the biggest choices we’ve made for our kids and they were hard but I’m thankful for peace regarding it all at this point.

    I loved what you said about being an advocate for what is right for your child vs. one side of an issue or another. That sums up my thoughts on so many issues that we could “take sides” on as parents.

    If you would like to read about our journey with homeschooling and public schooling all in one year the post is here: http://theprairiehen.blogspot.com/2012/05/school-year-by-comparison.html

    Also this one on dealing with my daughters learning disability: http://theprairiehen.blogspot.com/2012/05/my-views-on-disability.html

    This parenting thing is such a journey and it’s impossible to know what to expect other than expect to be surprised and to love your children more than you ever thought possible.

    Kindergarten Veteran in NE

  140. Oh, although i’m not quite in the same situation, my oldest has another year before Kindergarten enters our world, i could relate to the feeling.
    my youngest (2nd child) is a late-er walker. She’s going on 14 months and is just about to master the skill. A little more confidence and she’ll surely be cruising on her own. I always planned on 3 babies, not 2. And now there’s a possibility she will be our last. Although that’s not certain, even the possibility of it has caught me off gaurd and at times of “big moments” like this, imagining that it’ll be the last time I see one of my children take their first steps knocks the wind out of me. But with it comes even better things.

  141. My oldest started kindergarten in September. I too was on the fence between homeschool and public school. He just loves school now. He is doing so well. My youngest starts in upcoming September (11 months apart) I am already fearing “empty nest”!

  142. This post so resonates with me right now. My children are going to go to public school this fall, after homeschooling for several years. I am terrified for them, but also excited for them, and proud of them. They want to go, it is their choice, and we will support them, and if it doesn’t work out, we can always return to homeschooling. Part of me doesn’t want to let them go, but I know that my job is to support them in their decisions. I also plan to really enjoy this summer, and absorb as many memories as I can!

  143. Thank you so much this post is so therapeutic for myself and my mom……on Saturday I will be the last I five kids to graduate from high school and she is feeling like you just at the other end……thank you for your honesty it helps make the work go round :)

    Ps I was the one at your Skype session on Saturday that spoke about the book helping me through my grieving I cancer and I want you to know that I am passing along my copy to a family friend who was just diagnosed with Colin cancer….you have achieved that goal of reaching out to more than jut families affected by down syndrome…..you give words to our grieving, not pitying words like so many do when you say I have cancer to someone but words that acknowledge the feelings allow you to push through them when it’s the right time and give you the strength to push through the disease with confidence and pride……thank you :)

    Pps I also was the girl in front who wanted I be Lainey’s pen pal……I was completely serious…..especially when moving to college I really want to ecchange mail with someone…..can it be with Lainey??? My email is molly.renaldo@yahoo.com if you decide so :)

    Thank you kelle so much!!!

  144. it’s so true, “a little bit sad and a little bit excited” really do go together. We only have 8 weeks left until we meet our little Abby. We don’t know if she will be alive when she’s born. I’m always balancing between a little sad that the pregnancy, my last, will be over and a little bit excited about the possibility that we will have time with her.

    The beauty if life comes from the opportunity to “feel” ourselves through so many changes.


  145. Oh Kelle this made me cry. I could relate- to all of it. I struggled with the school vs. homeschool. I chose school- and now that first born kid is going to high school next year.
    Growing IS hard. And for those of us that document it along the way, well it’s especially hard to look back…
    but there is good to come. :)

  146. As usual you have made me bawl. Only because your words are beautiful and I can so relate.

  147. As I read this post, I could feel the lump forming in my throat, and the tears welling up. By the time I was done reading…..it was water works for sure. I know these feelings that you speak of, and struggle with it often. Being from a family of public educators (myself included), we chose to homeschool my oldest son. He is currently finishing second grade :) I really struggled with the decision. And, still do. We are always reassessing if what we are doing is still working and right for our family. It has not always been easy. And, I sometimes get alot of negativity from friends and family. But, when I get to see what he is learning every day, and we get to spend that time together….it’s priceless. They grow up too fast, and I do not accept that kind of change very well. Every birthday, every milestone, the tears are guaranteed to flow. This is a difficult subject. Thank you so much for sharing and talking about it. Good luck with whatever you decide. Lainey will be Fabulous!

  148. Our oldest is also starting Kindergarten this fall…such a momentous day – and I find myself also avoiding thinking of it too often because it makes me sad and happy at the same time. I like what you said about changing to adjust the needs of our families…it’s so right and we do the same thing!

  149. You are going to be SO amazed how much she flourishes when she starts school. I work at a daycare and every year I see our little five year olds getting ready for Head Start and Kindergarden. It’s the most amazing thing to see them for a year in the daycare classroom, and then come back a year after and see them with all old and new friends in the school age room. Congrats to Lainey!

  150. Oh I’m so glad I got to read this because I too struggle with what to do with regards to homeschooling, public school, private school… I think the best way to look at it is ALL the options are good. Public school or homeschool… both are good things. And my, your elementary school does sound and look like a good one- lucky you! And I too like to think that we always have the option to make changes if it doesn’t seem to be working. This is definitely a topic of interest to me, and probably lots of other people, so if you write more posts on your thoughts about school and learning and how to teach at home, etc… would love to read it! And remember, only you know what’s best for your child. Everyone is different.

  151. Hi Kelle,
    I know just what you mean. My oldest also graduated from high school, and my youngest graduated from middle school. I’m the one left in the middle feeling sad that they’ve grown so fast! I miss their fat little hands and messy faces. Good luck! You will make the right choice for you and your family. take care!

  152. I am a very big advocate of homeschooling, for more reasons than the “normal” ones, and a tried and true advocate of it…I’m in my Junior year of High School and I like to say I’ve been homeschooled since birth, because really, that’s when it all starts…when you start to learn to recognize shapes, smells, your mom’s voice…But that’s what I really love about homeschooling. not that this can’t be applied to time out of public school too, but with homeschooling you can honestly say everything is school. Go for a walk outside. Find a really cool leaf. Science lesson! And what I really appreciate about homeschooling is that you get to control what your kids are being taught. They were doing sex ed for 3rd graders at the local elementary school. I don’t want my future 8 year old learning how to have sex safely, thank you very much.
    Okay, down off my soap box. 😉 I totally get that public schooling can work for some just like home schooling might not work for everyone. But if you have a choice, I’d go with homeschooling all the time.

  153. First time posting, 2.5 years reading religiously :) My son was born almost 3 months premature almost around the same time Nella was born and her birth story was all over preemie boards as well since we could all relate so well to having unexpected birth . I’ve been rading your blog ever since as my three times weekly routine ! Love your writing, loved your book , love your pictures .
    Happy birthday, Lainey ! Oh and yes please please share Lainey’s 5th year photobook- those are so amazing and I am always looking forward to looking through them
    best of luck to your beautiful fammily. I will continue to follow your story . You are such an inspiration for everything beautiful ! :)

  154. tears!! my boy just finished kindergarten and seriously a year ago i thought i was going to die. i sobbed so hard after visiting the school for the first time. but my boy loved EVERY MINUTE of kindergarten. I cried at drop off. He didn’t! He was so ready and so proud of his new status in the world. My little scaredy cat was suddenly so brave. I don’t know where that came from. Despite my fears he absolutely flourished. i would never have believed it. Thank you for writing this because i know exactly how you feel. but you will get through it and lainey is going to do just fine! xoxoxo see you soon!

  155. I’m feeling this post today – as summer arrives and I think of sending not one, but two sweet little 5-year-olds off to kindergarten. All the mom’s around me see to be hankering for the “freedom” and a “break” and so glad for school… but not me. They’ll be in school the rest of their lives firs 3 hrs a day away, then 6! waaaah. So yes this post resonated with me today. Thanks for sharing your heart

  156. “I’ve made lists of pros and cons of both public and home schooling. Truthfully, I am an advocate of both and more important, I am an advocate of the fact that–like breast feeding vs. bottle or sleeping alone vs. family bed–there isn’t a wrong answer. My children will learn to fly in whatever environment in which they are placed because we will support them. Of this I am confident. I also remember that we can change our minds, we can reassess, we can listen to all those quiet cues our children send to tell us exactly what they need, and we can respond accordingly. We will make a decision for our children based on what we feel is right for them and for our family, and we will make it work.”
    I need to write this bit of treasure down because its so true. As a working momma who was home-schooled (and loved it), I wonder if what I’m doing is the best… in many situations. Thanks again for gelling my thoughts on the matter. It will be a journey like any other and they’ll come through ok. :)

  157. I loved your book and I love your blog! A little bit sad and a little bit excited is how I have felt since last September when my daughter started pre-k. I shed a few tears the first day we dropped her off, but it has been so great for her. We moved several times in the first 4 years of her life, so her interaction with other children, other than her 2 year old twin brothers has been limited. While attending public school, she has had what I believe was missing from her life…..friends! Socially, she has grown and matured so much this past school year. I can’t really comment on home schooling versus public schooling, as public school is all I have known, both as a student and former teacher. My daughter’s last day of pre-k was today and I shed more tears. Being a mother is the best thing in the world, but man it is hard watching them grow up so quickly! Now I understand what my parents were talking about!

  158. Yeah, crying now. I’m feeling this way about our second baby’s arrival in October- so excited to welcome our new little family member, but not believing that my 15-month-old is already going to be a big sister. Daily, I ask myself why life has to move so fast…

  159. Kindergarten is great! She will develop friendships with children that may live right in your neighborhod that you didn’t know. It opens up new doors and creates many fond memories. Yes, it is a little hard to drop them off that first day, but seeing them growing and becoming independent right before your eyes is reassuring. It is the beginning of another new chapter.

    For me also, I have become friends with other moms from my son’s school and it creates a nice feeling of community. She will do great and remember, the schools usually love volunteers, which gives you a chance to get into the classroom and see what they are up to 😉

  160. You know how to make a mother more happy!!!!

    See also my blog

  161. Thank you for this. Today I am so emotional my little one started PreK….nailed it a little sad a little excited his wings showed today and it made me cry but I can’t wait for him to take flight and soar with all the experiences INFRONT if him

    • YES! We’re allowed to get emotional–totally let it out. But yes, he’s spreading those wings and he will soar! Good Luck!

  162. This was an amazing post- it’s very rare that I come across one with not only great pictures, but good, heartfelt writing. I don’t even have a daughter that is near attending kindergarten, but this post gave me a preview of what to expect. You and your husband are great parents, and I only hope I’ll be as good of one one day.

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