That First Day

This post was intended to be written on Friday, but Friday swallowed me whole. I was so physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted, it wouldn’t have come out right–of this I am sure. And in between the first day of kindergarten and new home routines, a little storm called Isaac came rolling in this weekend, intimidating South Florida enough to close schools today. Lainey’s thrilled, thank you very much.

So, kindergarten…

After I dropped Lainey off at school Thursday and had my parking lot cry (followed by coffee shop cry, call-to-Brett cry, and call-to-sister/mom/dad/cousin cry, respectively), I set out to find her the perfect pair of gym shoes. It wasn’t really about the shoes but more about me needing to occupy my time–a mission I gave myself that subconsciously represented wanting to fix her sadness, wanting to make her happy some way, somehow. So I hit every shoe store in Naples, looking for the perfect shoes. Salesmen showed me their latest and greatest, but nothing said Lainey.

“No, no shoelaces,” I’d argue. “She can’t tie yet.”

Somewhere between the fourth and fifth store, I realized I was being silly and yet that’s part of motherhood too. We cope with things in silly ways sometimes, and Thursday I shopped for shoes like my child’s acceptance of kindergarten depended on a velcro, thick-soled, quality-stitched, not-pink, adorable pair of tennis shoes.

I bumped into Heidi halfway through my shopping, and she had news from the underground–a text from another mom who had seen Lainey at recess.

“Dina just texted me. She saw Lainey at recess!”

“She did?” I asked, hopeful. “And?”

Heidi’s eyes widened and she flashed a fake smile. “And that’s all. She talked to her.”

Rule of Life #421: When your best friend’s lying to you, her eyes get big.

“Oh my God, you’re so lying. You’re trying to spare me. What else did she say?” I asked.

“Shit. I knew you were going to ask me that.” Heidi paused for a minute, carefully planning her next words. “She was crying, Kelle. She was sitting by herself, crying.”

And that? That’s like taking a bullet.

Heidi started crying before I did. “I’m sorry. This sucks, doesn’t it? Let me go up there. Will they let me go be with her?”

“We can’t,” I answered. “You don’t know how badly I want to. But, she’s just got to go through this, and it sucks.”

Dad, I know I’ve said shit and sucks in one post, but it’s all I had last week.

It sucked.
But then it got a little bit better.


The drop-off was the hardest part of motherhood yet (give or take a couple of traumatic birth experiences, hospital stays, a life-rocking unexpected diagnosis–we can call that a given, right?). I sensed her anxiousness, I felt her grip, I listened to her soft sobs as she begged me not to leave. I hugged and reassured and prayed she wouldn’t see my tears. I brought my camera thinking if there’s one time to take pictures, it’s the first day of school. But the only time I pulled it away from me was to snap a photo looking down-the only photo we have from the morning she started school.


Two wonderful teachers who know just what to say and exactly how to comfort–they peeled her away from me while she cried, after my last quick hug, and I walked out the door where my friend was waiting. We hugged for a good minute and then sat in her car in the parking lot for another half hour before I sent her back up to check on Lainey. She returned, smiling. A good report: no crying, sitting on the carpet with the other students and a smile from the teacher who looked up from her book just for a moment to whisper “Excellent”–a word she indeed knew would be carried by the messenger back to the mama.

I thought about Lainey all day. I knew it wouldn’t be easy–lunch and recess and joining another class for art. I know my girl; I knew there’d be tears. And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t imagine some Black Hawk Down rescue–running in that school to sit by her throughout the day–knowing how big she’d smile, how good she’d feel to have me there. I think I surprised a lot of people–even myself.

“I thought you’d rent a helicopter,” my dad admitted. In fact, he sent Heidi to pull me from the classroom that first morning–unbeknownst to me–assuming I wouldn’t be strong enough to peel away from Lainey myself. Moments after The Great Peel-Away of 2012, I watched from the parking lot as Heidi, practically in her pajamas, came tearing around the corner in her white minivan, and I had to laugh when she looked shocked to see me standing there. (Sidenote: That damn white minivan always shows up. Always. In fact, if you want to be “the friend who shows up,” I’d suggest you start by getting a white minivan.)

Heidi quickly explained. “Dude, I came to get you out of there. Your dad texted me that he couldn’t get ahold of you, and he was sure you were in that classroom and never leaving. I’m here on official business. I thought for sure I’d have to pull you out. How did you do it?”

We both started laughing, mine still through tears. “You guys underestimate me. I know this is part of it. I knew I’d have to leave.”


I watched the clock all day. Showed up forty minutes early to make sure I got a good parking spot, checked in as a visitor, waited against the wall outside her classroom and watched for the door to open with that final school bell. And when it opened, the first one out was Lainey, holding the hand of her teacher, swallowed by that backpack half her size, smiling her coy little closed-mouth grin when she saw me.


Lunch and recess and switching classes for related arts is hard and will take some getting used to. But in one day my girl, who last week reported she was “nervous of learning,” was proud to tell me that she loves her classroom and adores her teacher. While students walked to buses and made their way to their parents’ cars that afternoon, my girl knelt down and unzipped her backback. She couldn’t wait to show me the picture she drew at school. “It’s me and you,” she pointed out, smiling.




When we returned the second day of school, she still didn’t want to go. She cried at recess again, and I cried to hear that. But it was already different. She didn’t grip my hand so tightly, she didn’t need to be peeled away. I saw confidence that had bloomed in one short day–the same kind of confidence that has appeared, without fail, so many times in my own life when I had to work a bit to find it. It’s there.


Self reflection is so very much a part of these motherhood moments. I have thought about why this is so hard, what I could have done to make it better. We chose not to do daycare or preschool for Lainey, and I don’t regret that decision at all, even though it may have made this transition a little easier. I wonder what things we can do to help smooth out these first few weeks, and we are trying lots of fun ideas–some our own, and some wonderful suggestions of yours. The thing is, there are a hundred billion ways to raise a child–to nourish them, to teach them to think on their own, to instill confidence, to show them kindness, to challenge them to be respectful, to educate them, to show them the world. And when you choose a way to do these things–a way that fits and feels good for your family and your child–I think it’s only natural to wonder if maybe one of the 99,999,999,999 other ways might have worked better.


A wonderful friend e-mailed me on Thursday after the morning report, and her reassuring words spoke right to my vulnerabilities:

This is NOT the report I was hoping for. And yet…it makes sense, sister. You have created such a heaven at home that everything without you is going to feel a bit hellish at first, right? And isn’t that sort of perfect? She’s gotta find her little slices of heaven without you. She’s gotta grow eyes like her mama’s eyes–eyes that find beauty in the little things in her own little school life. You’ve been finding joy for her, and now she has to channel her mama without her mama.”

What a challenge that is for all of us as parents, no matter how old our children are or when and where they go to school or how shy or outgoing they may be–encouraging them to find beauty in their surroundings, even if we are not there to point it out. As we get ready for the rest of the week and the four school drop-offs we face in the next four days, I’m thinking about opportunity. For Lainey, of course, it exists in the classroom, through the insecurities, and moment after moment at school when she continually recognizes ways to be happy and learn and make friends and find reassurance in her own abilities. For me and Brett, that opportunity exists at home–in seeking creative ways to talk about school, to role play scenarios of timidness and confidence, to prepare her every night and every morning to give it another shot.

This is all new territory, and hell, are we ever learning. It feels good though. I knew it was coming from the day she was tiny, when kindergarten seemed nothing but a far-off dream.


And it will come again, soon enough.


The plus side? Well, there are many of them, one of them being the whole school experience. Like playing house. There will be musicals and school fairs and late night texts to other moms asking what time the field trip starts, and I’m still in that “this is so cool that I have two kids” phase. Because sometimes I don’t really believe it.

After the drop-off Friday morning, a few of us kindergarten mama friends huddled at the front of the school and rehashed. One held a jammied baby on her hip, I held my styrofoam coffee cup, and school procedures commenced around us while we made good mama conversation. I liked it. I felt like I did when I bought a vacuum for my first condo. I just felt–I don’t know–like a real grown-up. Because lots of times, I don’t.

The moral of the story:

She’ll be fine. She’ll do great.

Mark Poulin’s cupcake necklace makes things happier.

We all will.

As my sister reminded me last week, “Our job is to prepare our kids for a life beyond us.” What an empowering task.

Oh, and the gym shoes? Found ’em. They are perfect. They are Lainey.


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.

And your #enjoyingthesmallthings photos. (If you use Instagram and have a photo that makes you happy, share it by using the hashtag #enjoyingthesmallthings. Yours may be chosen to be shared in a Friday post.)



Dashing Bee online children’s consignment shop is returning in sponsorship with a newly renovated site and new inventory. You can search items by size, by brand, by gender and clothing article and get what Dashing Bee is known for–quality, brand name gently used children’s goods at a fraction of the price. Dashing Bee updates their inventory daily and is a great place to shop for inexpensive outerwear for the coming season.

A few of my current favorites on Dashing Bee:



I’m still settling in to new routines. I have clothes to lay out, a lunch to pack and a girl who needs a fully present mama for bedtime tonight. Goodnight.



Leave a Comment
  1. I usually scroll thru the pics, then go back and read…but I got stopped at the part where Heidi tells you she’s in there crying?!!! HORRIBLE!! I agree, like taking a bullet. So glad you have the perspective that you do, and you got a little bonus day off from school today πŸ˜‰

  2. What a sweet post! My #2 just started Kindergarten. He has Asperger’s and it is not going as well as I had hoped. At the same time it is a growing experience to watch him become a bigger boy and be at school all day. It is a stage he has to go through. A change in all our lives.

  3. phew! I’m exhausted for you. Glad it went ok and like so much in life will get easier and easier. Go Lainey and Kelle!

  4. Sounds like a really intense week for you, and for the little girl! Goodness, you’re a wonderful momma. That little girl is incredibly lucky.

  5. oh my gosh, this post tugged at my Mommy heart strings.
    I think its only gonna get better from here!
    But I was home schooled, so I don’t know much πŸ˜‰

    Loved her “first day” outfit.

  6. sitting here having a little cry for you – because you have been able to put it into words! I have a 6, 5, 2 and a 1 year old and it still upsets me that I can’t wrap them up in cotton wool xx

  7. Ugh. I feel your pain. My baby girl started school a few weeks ago. I thought that it would be easier (she’s my second) but it wasn’t! She grabbed my hand and said “I want you to come with me mama!” it broke my heart. But, I was impressed that she didn’t ask to go home! It has gotten better but I still miss her every day…hang in there! And congrats on your pregnancy πŸ˜‰ after you have 3 Life will be exciting all the time! πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰

  8. Reading this in tears. My children are 7 and 9 now, but it feels like yesterday, that momentous goodbye. Yes, I agree with your friend: that’s our job, to push them gently so that they walk away. But also, at least for me, to try to hide the tears that always makes fill my eyes. xox

  9. Loved this post. It was so full of the emotion that comes from dropping our first off at school…along with the fabulous realization your friend made.

    They do need to learn to find the beauty in life without us by their side…eventually. Kinder is just one tiny step. Thank God there is so much more time to share that beauty with them each and every day!

  10. My heart broke at the idea of her crying, (I don’t have kids and I still wanted to get a helicopter to rescue her!) I so agree with your friend who said you’ve created a heaven for her. Be proud of yourself Mama – your children are loved :)

  11. something I needed to read today!! thank you!!

  12. can i just say that i adore heidi? she cracks. me. up. and i am happy to say, we BOTH own white mini vans. for our anniversary in october i am trying to convince my husband to get an airbrushed sunset painted on it, 70’s style, but he is stalling.

    wednesday is tru’s first day.

    hugs to you guys! fur coat on the way πŸ˜‰ she deserves it, brave girl.

  13. Oh that is tough. My daughter cried EVERY DROP OFF. Finally in December my father took over as it was wearing on me too much. We tired everything. She would cry with relief after school too even though she adored her teacher and some of her friends…She just could not stand it. She has an artists soul and needs more freedom- and is also too sensitive to bright lights, noises ect. We tried everything fun…but it was not until the last week of school when she settled it. So We decided for her, that we were not going to do that for a full year again. It was absolutely heartbreaking. On the plus side, since she was my eldest- the next child went WAY better:) You are right- tons of ways to raise children based on their needs. I hope you find your ways to beautify it I am sure you will as you always seem to find the groove:)
    You did good mamma:) I loved what your friend said to you. Oh, and also looking forward to hearing sometime about the meeting with the Momestry blog Glennon (another amazing blog). What fun!:)

  14. Good good stuff:) I cried the whole way through because I officially go and drop my little one off tomorrow. We visited for just a bit today and go her “special” schedule and it immediately occured to me that she didn’t have gym shoes, so I came home and started hunting online with the exact same specifications. The Keen Coronados are sitting in my Zappos cart as I type:)

  15. I love love love the way you love, and the way you are loved!

    I read this with my 3rd and last baby (who is 2 months younger than Nella) passed out heavy on my chest. I am reminded to breath him in, all his littleness because he is going to grow much to fast. Tears. xoxo for the record first day of school picture is so perfect, it is real and true and part of her story.

  16. How awesome is the network of people that was surrounding you and Lainey on her first day of school – texting and phone calls and best friends rushing to the rescue. That is her “village” (and yours, too, of course), and what makes her resilient. She will be fine!

  17. Boy does this bring me back. I remember dropping Robert off at preschool and one of the mothers was doing cheerleading high kicks and I couldn’t believe her insensitivity! Well Robert just started 8th grade and I’m the one veering off to get coffee rather than dropping him off at the classroom front door. It’s amazing how quickly they adapt. The day Robert started Kindergarten as a fully included student in General Ed. I had scheduled a talk to give the students about how much Robert was just like them but they would notice some differences just like we all have differences. I wanted them to feel free to ask me any questions about Down Syndrome. Imagine my surprise when the only question to come forth was “Teacher Can I have a tissue? I have a booger on my finger”. I laughed, cried and had one of the most emotional days ever. The kids have continued to be so supportive of Robert! You are entering a wonderful time of life.

  18. This got me a little choked-up. I’m a new mama (my son is only 9 months old), and a lot of my mama friends sent their oldest littles off to kinder within the past two weeks too. Honestly, I’m not even thinking about it…trying to enjoy his littleness even as he’s on the brink of walking and getting into everything these days. BUT, despite the “oh shit” and the tears, I admire your honest candidness in this post…and I cannot help but ponder how my baby will do when the time comes for us to venture into the school chapter. Thank you for sharing, as always, and for inspiring this journey we all share in raising the next generation.

  19. Wow…sitting here crying. There is nothing worse than knowing your child is sad & crying and you can’t go to them. Am amazed you stayed strong, not sure I would have made it! Great perspective though & a great post. Thank you Kelle!

  20. I cried as I was reading this. I’m not sure if ever gets easier to let them out of our arms but we just have to hope & pray we have done our job to the best of our ability.

  21. I read this through eyes blurred with tears. Your friend and your sisters are wise sages indeed. Such beautiful advice. And you were SO strong to let Lainey face this challenge and not Black Hawk it down in there! Resilience doesn’t just happen, it has to be built and all these are such valuable experiences in the resilience ‘pot’ for your little one.

  22. Aww Kelle, that’s a tough one to read. Cause no one wants to hear of someone as lovely as Lainey being upset.

    But she will get there. Like ballet. She’s so smart, so keen to learn. She will be ok.

    And Mama you just earned another badge of motherhood- I love that you took your friends and family by surprise. You have grown too.

  23. It’ll get better. She’s lucky to have a mama like you!

    A word to the wise, you may want to start preparing yourself for college now!

  24. I was there today, Mama!! My little special needs baby…started preschool. At 3. 3! She sobbed, I sobbed…it was heartbreak. I completely get it. You did great!!!

  25. Though my little guy won’t be ready for school for a few years, this was an excellent read. Definitely bookmarked for the future :) I wonder how he’ll be and how I’ll be… I hate tears! xx

  26. She will do great. It’s hard being a mama’s girl. I’m still one…I still cry a little when my parents leave me at college to go back home. But what is life without a few tears πŸ˜‰ I think she will be a smart cookie and totally embrace Kindergarden once she gets the feel of it!

  27. This post reminded me of why I so want to one day be both a teacher and a mama :) Thank you for sharing her first day with us. It will get better and she will love it. If anyone was made to be a learner, it is Lainey!

  28. Oh, Kelle. I’ve got tears remembering my own goodbyes to my oldest. It took us about a week, maybe two before there were no longer any tears at all. Your friends are so wise, and thank you for sharing their wisdom with us. I’m about three years away from repeating this with my second (and last) baby – and I’m trying really hard not to think about what it’s going to be like, and how it’s going to feel without either of them at home. Ugh.

  29. Yay for you and Lainey. It doesn’t get any easier with the second (or third). My little girl with DS started Kindergarten on Thursday as well. She cried until I left and then had a great day.

  30. My daughter is a sensitive one, and even 2 years of preschool (with no crying ever) led to a crier at Kinder last year. But it wasnt with drop off as much as the lunchroom. Apparently she was terrrrrrified of the lunch room. Cried daily for 3 weeks & didnt eat. The lovely part is that she worked through the fear herself (it was loud and scary) without me. Of course i was sooo sad not to be there and help her be strong, but i am equally proud of her for overcoming it on her own.

    Once Lainey meets another girl or two (who will be those ‘bffs’ i bet she starts to love school a lot more.

    I do LOVE the owl keen’s. so cool.

    One thing we did … Without directly reassuring her (as in something like “mommy always comes back”) i dropped subtle hints reminding her about what fun she will have at school AND what we will do after.
    IDK if that made sense. Basically any time she told me about something they did i would be like, THAT IS SO COOL, how fun that the teacher had that project, man i wonder what she will come up with next, and kind of put the school up there as the place where you get to do cool stuff that you dont do anywhere else. Sometimes we re-did her favorite school projects again at home (her favorite being glueing macaroni on a large cut out of a girl doll and then painting it). All these FUN and NEW ideas the teacher gives us!!

    The real fun starts when they start reading, for real. Then you can go chapter book shopping!

    Hang in there, mama.

  31. Your pictures with her and so precious and YOU look SO good! Seriously, you don’t even look like you’re showing…how is that possible??? I’m almost 10 weeks and I feel like I’m totally starting to pop out.
    Anyway- I hope she continues to love school more everyday. She is precious and all of her classmates are blessed to have her!

  32. Oh goodness, this is bringing tears to my eyes. My little one is 22 months, and as I read this I’m envisioning putting her on the school bus for the first time. Harder on me than it will be on her, I’m sure. I’m a teacher, as staying home isn’t an option for us, and today was the first day back. Even though she loves daycare and I’ve left her before, my heart broke today. But you are right; they learn and grow, and find their wings without us, because of us.

  33. I have a white mini van…..sweet!!

    Oh, Kelle, my heary breaks for you just reading this. I can’t imagine hoe hard it must have been to let go of your little girl while she’s crying. I guess I’ll be there too, one day. I’m happy to hear the second day was a little better. Hopefully by the end of this week she’ll feel even better about the whole school thing. And, you too! You have amazing friends to help you through it all. I hope to be that kind of friend as our kids get older. :-)

  34. That is about the best damn post ever!!!

    In a world where 98% of my friends home school & a mother-in-law who is constantly pushing that on me, I just love school and everything that comes with it. It would make me so sad not to be a part of it. This post has a lot of things that I love about school.

    Thanks! I hope that this is a great year for everyone!

  35. My children are older now, but I remember those days like yesterday. It’s so exciting, and you want to share it with her, but she’s ready to take the steps herself. You’re raising her to be a capable, loving child, and she’ll be fine. My eldest left to study abroad in Italy last week, and today I asked my middle, Elliot, ” I understand why Kieran doesn’t want to be my friend on Facebook,…… but if he posts any beautiful pictures or anything I would want to see..” before I could finish he said “don’t worry mom, I’ll share with you”…I didn’t have to explain it to him.

  36. *sob* tears were streaming reading that! I remember my first day of school with my oldest. I was fully prepared for her to cling, expected she’d need to be pried from my fingers I did not expect to to hang up her backpack and turn frm we without a word and walk into her classroom with out a second glance! I was shocked and saddened. Thankfully another little one was crying and refusing to let go of his mamas hand that she came back out to see what was going on. I got my hug and brave goodbye. I barely made it outside the school doors before the sobbing began! I mean CRIED the tears flowing freely. My mom teased me and we laughed. I totally blamed my pregnancy hormones on my reaction. I knew I’d have one more first day to get through years down the road. But I’ve learned that every first day if each new school year is as hard as the last for me anyway! I stay strong until I am out of site but then I let the tears fall. My babies are growin up and needing me a little less each day but I k ow that I’ve given them the skills they need to succeed! You have given Lainey those same skills! You will both be fine!

  37. Holy cow, I’m 61 years old with kids ages 33 and 36 and I cried through this whole post reliving the moments I had to let them go. And the most poignant moment … the picture she drew! Buckets of tears then. You (and Brett) are doing an amazing job, sweet Kelly. This blog should be an instructors manuel for parents. xo

  38. The picture she drew of the two of you made me cry. Oh, how I know the feeling you’re experiencing. My oldest girl is starting grade 1 this fall.

  39. Good job, sweet Lainey. Good job, sweet mama. You’ll both be just wonderful. :)

  40. Oh, wow… Crying at recess? My heart sank when I read that, and she isn’t even mine!

    I am a kindergarten teacher, and no matter what- daycare, preschool, home with mommy- those first couple of days are rough on everyone. I think it’s hardest on the parents because most of the time, the kids really are fine after a little while, but mommy doesn’t get to see that!

    I know Lainey’s teachers are loving her, and I’m sure she will love it before long!

  41. I love how this post is gut-wrenching and uplifting at the same time. :) You and Lainey make a great pair and are getting each other through this. Here’s to a new week!


  42. Love, Love, Love! You are a great mom and Lainey is an amazing little girl! I don’t like that she was sitting there along – it reminds me of when I was younger, I was so shy but I survived and now I have my own little girl who will be going to school next week. I tear up just thinking about it but I know she will be fine and it is part of growing up and becoming her own person. Luckily on the first day I have to leave since I am working and the family I work for lives down the street from her school so we will all walk her – and leave. I am planning a special surprise at pick up since this is a special occasion . Soaking in the memories and time with her.

  43. I don’t have any sage words of advice, but I just wanted to tell you that everything you’ve described, including both yours and Lainey’s reactions is totally normal! My boyfriend’s mom stayed home with him until kindergarten, and he also HATED it and used to cry in kindergarten. He said the boy who was his childhood best friend became so when he walked up to him in kindergarten and said, “You know what? Tomorrow, you shouldn’t cry.” The next day, peer pressure worked its magic and he didn’t cry.

    Last Christmas, though, his mother told me about how worried she used to be because the elementary school was in walking distance. She said she was terrified to leave the house during the day to go grocery shopping or run errands because she thought she’d hear a knock at the door and see her little 6 year old standing there, after he’d escaped from school! (Funny to talk about 25 years after the fact…probably stone cold serious fear when it was happening!)

  44. You’re friend’s email was just beautiful, Kelle. Just beautiful.

  45. Well, wow. I cried through this entire post and I’m not sure which was more powerful, feeling the pain of a child finding her way or the complete beauty of a friend who shows up to hold you up. Your words here, oh my how they are held together with love… for your people and love FROM your people.

  46. Sobbing, sobbing. Once again.

  47. This is one of the most beautiful posts you’ve ever written. Im sobbing reading it. Thank you so much for pouring your heart out to us and for your honesty. My little girl is almost 3 and we’ve been working on potty training this week πŸ˜‰ It’s got me realizing what a little girl she is now and not a baby. My heart breaks at the thought of having to let her go bit by bit. This mothering thing is one tough job!

  48. I cried as I read your post, but your friend had some beautiful words about how Lainey has to find her own slice of heaven without her mama. I have 1 year left before my oldest starts Kindergarten, and I’m hanging on to that year with dear life. We are also not choosing to do preschool. They have enough years of school ahead of them, I want them to enjoy just being kids :)

  49. I had a husband, two daughters and a house, but it took buying a minivan for me to feel like an adult! Haha, glad I’m not the only one who feels that way sometimes! Love the advice/reassurance that your friend gave you! I will tuck that away in my pocket for a couple years when I am faced with this same situation. I love how you stay true to the choices you made as a family and how they work for you, but that your recognize and don’t undermine the 99,999,999 other ways that families chose to raise their children! You have a good heart mama!

  50. I just went thru half a box of kleenex!! My girl is starting 2nd grade and my boy preschool next week and I still have a good cry that first week of school!! My girl loves school but it is just so hard for me to always let go!! And my boy going to preschool, I just can’t take it! He has cp and I worry like crazy but he is so Mr. Do it myself, he is so ready…me not so much!! I will miss them like crazy but when they get home and they give me a big hug and show me all those goodies in their backpack…LOVE IT!!

    Tina J

  51. Kelle,

    I only shed a couple tears today, my sons first day of school.

    One is in 11th & one is in 6th grade.

    It gets a little easier with each passing school year, but it is still sad for me.

    The first day of school marks the end of summer, they (and I) will turn another year older & they will, in fact, leave my home some day (God willing!)

    Thank you for putting your feelings out there. It’s comforting.

  52. I dropped my son off at kindergarten this morning and in front of us was a little girl, on the floor, kicking and screaming…she was absolutely terrified. The teachers had to carry her in…and then I cried the whole way home and it wasn’t even my kid! I felt for her and her parents, that’s so so hard to see your child/any child go through that. But I do believe it’s a necessary part of learning independence and finding strength.

  53. Thank you for this post! Melted my heart and was perfect for my day today…as I took my “baby” to her first day at Kindergarten today. Perfect.
    Blessings to you and yours!

  54. I cried through this whole post. I send my twins to preschool next week for the first time. They’ve had a nanny since they were babies. I worry about Sophie, who will sit there and cry. I worry because I won’t be able to drop them off on their first day. I feel like the bad mommy. I hate the growing up but love it at the same time if that makes any sense.

  55. It’s funny that you mentioned feeling like an adult. I am 37 years old, have a career, a house, a husband and a daughter but I still don’t feel like a true adult most of the time. There have been some moment recently though when I have felt very adult. This is the first time in my life I am having these feeling and I have to say it’s strange. I think it makes me feel more confident though so hopefully it’s a good thing.

    Lainey will do great!

  56. Oh Kelle, I’m here right with you! My first just started Kindergarten last week… and it was hard. So hard. I just wrote about it, like the first little pin prick to that delicate bubble we mamas wrap our kids in. She’s starting to break out of that cocoon I spent so much time creating for her and it’s the beginning of spreading her wings, of coloring her own story… with her favorite Crayola colors. Ugh. but the tears. They are still hard.

    ~Tabitha Blue

  57. Omg. I hope you know everyone who read this started crying at imagining your baby crying on the playground. So brutal. you are so strong. Lainey is awesome and this will be a transformative year for you all. Hang in there. You are not alone.

  58. so glad you all stayed strong and made it through the first two days!! i got all teary-eyed when you said lainey showe you the picture she drew of the two of you.

    love that you are one fierce mamma yet you know when your girls need to make it on their own.

    hope you all stay safe through hurrican isaac!

  59. In one week, my “baby” went back to school in 7th grade, my middle girl started 10th grade at a new high school, and I drove my oldest to begin her sophomore year in college 6 hours away. It was the longest week of my life. So many of my emotions and fears were the same as yours and my girls are all big! The difference….I was the only one crying. My girls were all smiling and happy and thrilled to be going back to school! Hang in there. You are an awesome mom and Lainey will be fine.

  60. Great insight! So I’m hoping you and Glenon are going to be big buddies…. Just read she moved to Naples. I loved her insight as well in her note to you. You did create a perfect haven for her!

  61. This post made me smile because I KNOw it will only get better, with each passing day.

    My youngest will be going off to college next year. She will go gallavanting off, and I will be left in the puddle of tears….role reversal at it’s finest.

    It’s never easy, no matter how old they are.

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  63. I was crying with you and with Miss Laney. It only gets better from here! My girl is only in Preschool, but what helps us is the great pictures and crafts she always makes for Mama! Your right though, she’s going to be just fine :)!

  64. Well, I can’t say it gets much easier (my poor husband blocks out his calendar that ‘first school day” morning because he knows I am so nervous and anxious for my kiddos (esp my little angel Casey who started 2nd grade this morning – Yikes!) but I do know that these elementary years have been so much fun!!! And I am sure you will love every minute of it too!

    It sounds like all in all you are off to a great start and doing it in your own way! Congrats to Lainey!!

    Angela from Dallas

  65. Loved the picture Lainey drew of you two – both with VERY LONG eyelashes! Too Funny! She’s gonna do just great – no doubt about it! Wondering how the Nella Bean is handling her big sister being gone? Is she missing her terribly, or loving having you all to herself? Can’t go wrong with Keens – and you are right – they are SO Lainey! Have a great week, mama!

  66. This will be my life in two short years… and watching all the facebook posts and reading this about the young kids going off to school has me teary-eyed for the future.

    Our second child is due any day, and all I can keep rehashing is how young my first son is, I don’t want to miss any of it… because like it or not, we have to let them grow up :(

  67. My oldest daughter found recess the hardest part in the early days of kindergarten. She would say she just walked around by herself and “just hugged a pole and thought of my cousins”. But it got better. Every day she grew quietly confident and I am so proud of her. My younger daughter started kindergarten this year and guess what? On the first day she said, “Mom, can you just drop me off? Please don’t go in with me?” Ouch.

  68. I felt your pain, Mama.

  69. I just had my 4th little one 9 months ago…and one memory that is forever stained in my brain is the first day of kindergarden for our first daughter! It was HORRIBLE! I put her on this big yellow bus with a complte stranger and no seat belts. It went against everything I had been doing to keep her safe for 5 years. I went in the house and laid on her bed smelling her clothes and cried my eyes out for hours. Nothing has compared to that ever since. The second and third first days of kindergarden were alot easier on this Mama. Thank you for sharing the honesty of what the first day of kindergarden really is! Much love. ♥

  70. Oh my goodness, those are the perfect shoes for Lainey and I love them. She is going to kick gym class in the heiney with those lovelies.

  71. I loved this. Reading how you love her is just divine!

  72. Aww! Keep being brave! I remember crying at college dropoff (I’m the kid!) and remembering crying at so many dropoffs before that that turned out to be gateways to wonderful new versions of me. (Also, I would kill for those printed shoes in adult sizes. I hate shoelaces.)

  73. I know so many people say this, but I just adore seeing your words and pictures sitting there in my newsfeed, ready to be opened and read. Your posts lift me up and make me remember how special motherhood is…. and, that all of us are human – – we all feel quite similarly, when it comes down to it. I am so happy to hear that your first day with Lainey in kindergarten went better than you thought! All of your feelings are, of course, justifiable….. you love her, that’s all that matters. You love her and you want her to soar and fly, yet you want to be right beside her. Makes sense to me. She seems like a wonderful little girl and I am so proud of her and, of course, I don’t know her. But, after reading your posts, and your book, I feel like I do. Love seeing the pictures of her brand new backpack, lunch box, thermos, crayons and glue…… I know how hard it will be for me to see my little girl go off to kindergarten ( I am keeping her home with me until that time, as well ) – – thanks for shedding some light on a situation that will come quicker than I am ready for it. Maybe I will re-read this blog entry the day before to help myself! Can’t wait to read the next one…….. : )

  74. Absolutely beautiful. My oldest will start kindergarten next year, without having ever stepped foot into a preschool setting or anything. I struggle with the decision I made, wondering if I am going to be hindering him in some way. Thanks for the reassurance that Im doing whats right for us and our family!

  75. You know I’ve been dropping my kids off at daycarefor 3 years now and I still get a lump in my throat and a little teary eyed when I look in through the window and see them confidently going about their day with out me. It hurts, it still hurts. But I loved what your friend said about Lainey channeling you to find the beauty. That spoke right to my heart.And now I realize the tears come more from my pride in them than from my own sadness. And thank you once again for being vulnerable. Thank you!

  76. Well, shoot. You made me cry when I read about your friend and her white mini van. Could life be any better with a friend like that?
    I love your eyelashes in Lainey’s picture.

  77. Ugh, to find out she was crying does hit you like a bullet. But you all made it. I want to hear how Nella did without Lainey around during the day. I am glad each day is getting a little easier. I hate seeing my kids upset when it is something that I could so easily fix but as your sister said, preparation for a life beyond us. I love it. Hang in there.

  78. I read this post with myriad emotions. I’ve been where you are, several times. One by one, I sent my children off to kindergarten. I pried their little hands from my own, kissed them and turned so they couldn’t see my own shimmering eyes. And at the end of the day, I was there waiting for them and they (we) survived. Last year I sent my oldest off to college and it was another punch to the gut. She cried again. She said “I just want to come home.” I wanted to rush right up there… and one time I did. I got in my car and drove 2.5 hours because I knew she needed me. But as you said, this is what we raise them for. We raise them for independence, to spread their wings and fly, to become who they are meant to be. I sent my second, a son, off to college last week and he went without much ado. Not quite as emotional, not quite as needy as big sister. Still, my heart clenched a little. My little boy is a young man. I love who he is becoming. As I read I nodded my head, I smiled, I understand. And yet….this year? This year I should have sent my own sweet Laynee to kindergarten. I should have done her hair and tied her shoes and kissed her sweet, soft cheeks. I should have told her I loved her and that I’d be right here when she came out. But I didn’t. I didn’t need to. She is kicking up gold dust in heaven. As I sent 6 children off to school this year, pain twisted like a knife in the deepest part of my soul for the one who didn’t get to go to kindergarten. This? This sending them to kindergarten and then to college is one of the things that we, as mama’s, are meant to do. It’s what we need to do. Rejoice in the gift of your children. Drink in every beautiful moment, even the ones that hurt a little…..or a lot. Thank you for not taking it for granted for I have learned that there are no guarantees. Life can change in one beat of our hearts.

  79. Do you know the book The Kissing Hand? Great book for when our littles are away at school. I gave my twins Kissing hands (I drew a heart on their palms to look at if they missed me and it’d remind them that I loved them) their first day of kindy. They start 1st grade next week….and they’ve grown so much confidence in this one year I don’t think they’ll need them. But I think your sweet girl would benefit from one.

  80. so beautiful! reminded exactly what it was like— made it seem like just yesterday. proud of you, mama, and proud of your little/big girl! we are only sending one off to school next week, b/c tragedy has struck our little family. but still. but still. i can read this post and remember walking up the big hill toward the bustop. i remember.

  81. This did it.

    I just sent my 4-year-old, my oldest girl, to preschool today. She was brave and so was I. I thought I would cry today, but I didn’t.

    Not until I read your post.

    You know what, though… I NEEDED to cry today. Thank you for allowing myself to let it all out.

  82. Three thoughts:
    1. Thanks for being honest. We have to go through this next year, and, oh my! It helps to hear other people who survive. :)
    2. Nella’s hair is GORGEOUS.
    3. I cried almost every day of kindergarten. But I loved it otherwise, once I got over the first few minutes (hour). And I still cry before new things (and I’m over 30, with 2 kids, a decade-long marriage, and many college degrees). So even if she keeps crying, know that she’s not alone, and maybe, like me, she’ll end up in education because even though she cried, she fell in love with it. :) And Lainey seems much cooler and self-assured than I was!

  83. Loved this post. You and Lainey are growing in ways you only dreamed could happen! Congrats on making it through the first few days. My sweet girl starts kinder on Wednesday – I’m sure I’ll cry… Enjoy every minute – as they say, “the days are long but the years are short.” xo

  84. Who knew that growth could be so painful and so beautiful at the same time. :) It’s all about roots and wings. We give our children roots so that one day we can give them wings. And we have to do it multiple times throughout their childhood! But thankfully…it gets easier…most of the time. πŸ˜‰

  85. I have never posted before but I have to tell you this story is amazing and I wept like crazy even though my oldest is only 3. You are a storyteller.

  86. Thank you.

  87. I cry when I read your posts sometimes…I know lots of people do. You make me want to try each day to be a better mum and to feel proud when I invest time in my children’s lives, because the rewards are so great. Thank you so much for making parenting a positive and valuable experience.

  88. Once upon a time, I was a shy kindergarten. I cried a lot. I had never been away from my mom, either.

    After about a week, when I finally worked up the nerve to walk up to a girl at recess and ask her if I could play, things got better. Drastically better. I still had some sad times when I missed my mom and some tears escaped (okay, almost every day), but I loved kindergarten.

    One day very soon, your friend will text with the message that she sees Lainey on the playground. She’s holding the hand of another little girl and they’re skipping across the playground with their shy smiles.

    I can’t wait to read that post. :)

  89. Aghhhh! That gripped my heart and ALMOST made me cry… I am slightly disappointed, proud and confused. I was so excited the other day to read in your FAQ tab that you were seriously considering doing homeschool! I know you joke a lot about being “homeschool girl” yourself, but I see so much to benefit from doing it with your own girls. I know you have to figure this out and school might be right for Lainey. It might also be traumatic. I just hope it works out in the end for all of you whichever wins out. I hope you stay open to possibilities even after these first few brave days. I know you’ll do the right thing. Love from Utah!


  90. Thank you so much for sharing your brave mama and brave Lainey story. Our only child will be starting kindergarten next week. She is also the only kid from our “group” that did not go to preschool or daycare. I can confidently say that keeping her home was the best decision for our family and that I cherished my days being her full time mama. I do worry about her transition to a classroom and kindergarten but I wouldn’t have done it any other way. I will not look back and regret that I didn’t do enough when I had the chance. Sure, we had good and bad days but in many ways we were both growing up and together and we still will. Our daughter will experience and learn so much this year. She is ready. I will learn to slowly take a few steps back and let her find her path. I am ready. Thank you for being honest about the hard parts, its refreshing to hear someone tell the truth about the hard parts instead of candy coating it to fit in. As I cry from the parking lot on her first day I will think of all of the other brave mamas doing the same thing and I will be proud. What a privilege it is to be a mama and to love so much.

  91. Well done Lainey and Mama! And Heidi is a gem – thank heavens for friends like her.

  92. As I am reading your story it brings a tear to my eye and a lump in my throat. I only seemed like yesterday that I was sending my son off on his first day at school and now next week he is heading off to college. My heart is breaking but yet I am so proud of him. Proud that he is starting a new chapter in his life. So proud of the way he has grown over the years with a quiet confidence. But scared for him as he is no longer my little boy who can some to me and catch my hand and cry and says he dosen’t want to go like he did all those years ago! Enjoy your beautiful young children as in a blink of an eye they will become adults heading out into the world.

  93. i love your photos!!!

  94. We chose not to enroll our kids in daycare or preschool either. The start of school is different for every kid. My first son is quiet and shy but he didn’t shed a tear the first day of school. My second, although an outgoing and energetic boy, his first day(s) sound a lot like Lainey’s. It was tough for about the first 3 weeks then he settled into the routine. He is insistent that he is not returning next week but I know that after he does, he’ll learn to love it like he did before.
    And the tears at drop off, they might come all year. Maybe not every day, but there will be days they will come. It stings every time.

  95. Your post spoke straight to my heart today because I’m the Queen of Not Letting Go.

    I love how through your tears and emotions you’re being so brave to let go.

    And Kelle, those tennis shoes are AWESOME!

  96. Those sneakers really are perfect.

  97. ugh heartwrenching about her crying! My sofia was supposed to start kindergarten and was registered in NJ but we relocated to GA and they wont let her start because she missed the GA age cutoff by 10 stinkin days….so alas kindergarten will be delayed one more year….buuuuuuuuuuuuttttt……Im thinking I might have to indeed rent one of those helicopters when that day comes :)

  98. Oh gosh, not solitary playground tears. She’ll be ok though. And I know this not because I have kids, but because i was a momma’s girl and I did the same thing at kindergarten on the first day. You’re a great mom!

  99. Oh gosh, not solitary playground tears. She’ll be ok though. And I know this not because I have kids, but because i was a momma’s girl and I did the same thing at kindergarten on the first day. You’re a great mom!

  100. And here’s a teacher’s perspective: I consoled a little guy yesterday who was not only starting a new school, but one in a new country where he doesn’t know the language. (I teach at an international school.) And despite his tears, he did okay with the loving support of the teachers and other children, who were also very kind to him. It was better for him that Mom wasn’t there, just as it was better for Lainey. They grow from these experiences and discover their own strength and resilience.

  101. Sitting here at work with tears streamming. Once again you pull at my heart strings. Hang in there Mama and Lainey!

    PS…I want a friend like Heidi!

  102. “In fact, he sent Heidi to pull me from the classroom that first morning–unbeknownst to me–” How incredibly sweet of your Dad. I cried throughout your post….

  103. Beautiful post! You made me sound better than i am and you have done the same for me. Love you.

  104. That “Wonderful friend” always knows the perfect thing to say, doesn’t she? My first thought when I read she moved to Naples is that you two can hang out! Excited for you both on that front.

  105. “What a challenge that is for all of us as parents, no matter how old our children are”….so true!

    I so remember the preschool tears, I had them for both kids…. Nici consoled me! Trav was so miserable we had to change schools, a wise decision. By kindergarten THEY were pros, not me; stilled sobbed like a baby, as I did when they went off to college! It is a mama/love thing!

    Bug & Ruby’s Gram

  106. I am going to call my Mom and see if she remembers sending me to first grade (my first time in public school) to be harrowing. I remember it being a bit rough on me, but never thought about how much parents ride an emotional rollercoaster. It will keep getting better! It is so scary and exciting to see a little girl testing her wings and experiencing real independence for the first time. It is hard for sure, but she will take a lifetime store of strength away from doing it on her own and having a safe and secure home to regenerate her at night. Just like grownups! Meg

  107. Dude! Where’ the picture of the shoes? πŸ˜‰ You are such a wonderful mama and this story just proves it! Lainey will be fine, I am sorry she had a rough start, but she will flourish like no other at school. I am dreading the 1st day of kinder all over again next Fall with child #2-my kids do fine. It’s me. Now I am off to send my 2nd grader off on the bus for the first time ever. She’s excited….me? not so much….

  108. Love the post. All part of life and being a parent. This is my first year of no kids in school =) Both of mine are at college now. However, this is just the start of “firsts” and “tears”. That’s what I love about being a mom and loving our kids. My guys now know they are tears of love and encouragement for them. Yes, I cried when my youngest left for his first full-time job =) I can’t help it, I missed him.

  109. I read your post crying because I can imagine how you feel. And hearing that she was crying during recess. Heartbreaking. I have two little girls and my oldest is 3 1/2 and I am already thinking of kindergarten. I know she will thrive though but my heart breaks to think she will be in school! without me! Why oh why do these little angels have to grow up. Lots of hugs mama! it will get easier and she will just bloom even more. Your daughters are beautiful!

  110. Wow, I was waiting to see how it went. My heart breaks for you! And yet, you are impressively staying so strong. I wondered over the weekend as I checked your blog: “did she take her out of school and decide to homeschool?” LOL. I know this is hard, going from having her with you all day to leaving her at a big, new school all day, hard for both of you! What big changes this year! I know my son is going to cry next year and think school is so big and scary :( I am confident Lainey will grow to like it and it will get easier. I am like you, I chose to not send my 4 year old son to vpk this year. So, like I said before, everybody has told me how hard it will be for him to adjust to kindergarten next year (they said kindergartens are like what 1st grade used to be for us- they are expected to already be adjusted from preschool). You’re right, if we had sent them to preschool, it would be easier for them. But I also agree with you that I am not going to regret this decision. I’d rather have one more year with him at home full-time with me and have a little bit of a rougher transition to school next year, than send him to vpk this year and not have this extra time with him. Hopefully what we do/did with them at home will give them a strong foundation to grow and adjust well at school. Thanks for sharing. I’d be interested in hearing how you are helping her adjust. What a difficult yet exciting time for you.

  111. I just knew that “wonderful friend” was Glennon without even having to click it! How exciting that you two will be in the same city now! You are two of my all-time favorite women and writers!

  112. I am sorry to hear that she is working so hard! I am a long-time kindergarten/young child educator that has been on the other side of that door, wrapping up the sad ones in class. I have a few little ideas that I share with families.

    First, listen. Not every school is for every child, and if the anxiety lasts and lasts, you want to keep your options open. Most students adjust fine, so stay calm and confident.

    If possible, send a lovey- a special stuffie or blanket or pillow, maybe even a scarf, that they can hug and hold when feeling far from home. They can keep it in a backpack.

    Third, have a fun activity to engage in when entering the room- read a book together, then lead towards blocks or dollhouse and help them connect before walking away. That way the energy flows into a new path instead of hitting a wall.

    This strategy can help at recess, too. If a teacher or aide can check in with students on the sidelines and ask, do you want swings, or hopscotch. I will watch a minute until you are confident. This eases anxiety.

    Talk to the teacher and find a friend/buddy. I moved seats in my class to put a few shy ones closer to a student who could befriend them and take on that mentor role at school. As a teacher, I also ask a student if they can make a special effort to invite a shy student to play outside. A friend can make all the difference!

    I know it’s so hard. Children have strong wings, and kindergarten is a big leap into new skies. I bet she will soar with time. She has such a lovely nest to return to at home! :)

    PS not all school have the time for these ideas. I am lucky to work at an arts-based charter school. If you ever want a sympathetic teacher-ear, I can keep sending you ideas and support. I have lots of creative solutions and I am happy to help!

    Also, kinder-students are very sensitive to group-energy. Some more than others. So big events like switching classes and recess test their ability to filter all the sensory energy. They learn how to hold themselves within the energy in time. Kindergarten is big work! I am glad to hear that she connects with her teachers.

    Warm wishes!

  113. On vacay right now but had to read this. So sorry the day was hard. Broke my heart. That friend was right…Lainey was so incredibly happy at home with you that school just wasn’t living up. Change is hard. Even if it’s good. It will be good. It will! Big hugs friend.

  114. Oh and you made my “big chick” ecstatic…thanks for picking her pic. I’m so proud of her artistic eye. Can’t believe she’s mine.

  115. Thank you for that amazing heartfelt story. So honest. So real. Thank you.

  116. Hopefully every passing day will get easier for Lainey as she learns to navigate her school! I was a shy and unique child and I still remember those bittersweet feelings when my mom would drop me off.
    My daughter is artistic and sensitive as well, we will send her to a Waldorf school when she is kindy age.
    My daughter has the same sneakers! Her fourth word was owl! πŸ˜‰

  117. As an Elementary School Counselor I am very familiar with the first day of Kindergarten “peel away moment” as I am usually assisting…this year I am prepping for my own “peel away moment”. One week from today I have to drop my 8 week old off at the sitter’s and return to school. My heart is breaking. I can’t think about it without tearing up…I am working hard to accept the situation, but I have been mourning all the little moments and memories that I will miss.

  118. i was hanging on every word… so proud of little Lainey Love. and you. my sweet, sensitive son is 3 and half and i hope that i am as strong as you were that first day.

  119. Your friend’s email made me cry. I love her perspective!

  120. Lovely post. And your sister’s words are so true. I once had someone tell me that the way to judge your success as a parent is if you raise your child to no longer need you. Harsh. Sad. But true in many ways.

    Although… I still need my mommy. Just in a whole different way now :)

  121. I’m not sure that it matters when you do it. That leaving them thing. Daycare/preschool/kindergarten. It can go either way. Your girl would have probably had a harder time when she was younger. Mine have been in daycare since infants. With each one I’ve had those times. The times where they had to be peeled off of me. With one it was at three. Another at two. With my son, who is almost four, it comes and goes.

    You know your girl and that’s all that matters. She’ll do great. She’ll get used to it. She’ll make it easier for her sister (and baby brother or sister) who come after her. They’ll always know going to school.

  122. Oh and I laughed at Heidi trying to lie. I ALWAYS know too. ha.

  123. Love this post… It meant so much to me since today was my little Lyric’s first day of preschool. I am so excited for Lainey and all the new friends she will make and the courage she will gain. You are so strong and I love it! How is Nella doing with Lainey being at school?

  124. Today is my little guys first day of school. He has never been to day care or preschool so this is totally new to him (and me!). My husband isn’t as worried but he is at work during the day so he isn’t going to miss him like I will. We met his teacher yesterday and I am less worried now because not only is she sweet and patient she is also left handed (like my son) and told me that she would make sure he wouldn’t learn to curl his hand while he wrote (this has concerned me since I first realized he was left handed several yrs ago). When we saw the school list he was put in a class with a teacher and met and didn’t want for him. I am not saying she is a bad teacher by any means but when Reuben met her in the spring they didn’t click. She was to quiet and he didn’t connect with her and I just knew she wasn’t the right one. My sweet sweet husband called yesterday morning and asked for him to be moved to the other class. It was a new teacher we had never met and we knew it could be worse but I am so glad we switched him anyways. This new teacher seems to click nicely with him so I have hope that this will turn out great. He is normally pretty outgoing but I know he has a hard time not chatting with everyone and with having to sit quiet for things so that will be a challenge for him. He is very bright though so from a learning stand point I think he will do great:) I’m glad to know I am not the only mama that has been on the verge of tears at the thought of letting him go into school today without me. It just about breaks my heart but I know he will be okay without me there. I have talked about stranger danger and who he can go to and who to trust. I have told him to listen to his teacher and remember to be quiet when she asks. Mama’s do all we can to prepare our babies but no one prepares us for the pain when these all important pieces of our hearts walk into those schools without us. We told him that after school we will all go as a family for a special treat and he can tell us all about his first day of school. He has been so excited about it! We also let him pick a special key chain to go on his back pack and got to pick his water bottle too. Thank you for this post. It was timed perfectly for me to read this morning and feel support from other mama’s around the world sending their babies to school for the first time. It’s hard but I think he is going to be amazing in school <3

  125. These kindergarten postings have given me food for thought lately. My daughter (my one and only) starts Pre-K on September 10th. She just attended a week-long summer session at the school she’ll be going to, and it was like. I just let her go, and it didn’t even hurt…and I didn’t even realize it until afterwards. You have to understand where I’m coming from. Kindergarten (and school in general) has taken on that hazy, nighmarish quality that really bad experiences tend to fade to over time. I grew up in a strict, religious household with an overbearing father who dominated my life. I attended no pre-school stuff, and had very little interaction with other children before entering kindergarten. As a result, I had horrible separation anxiety, social trouble fitting in, and my childhood school years are not fond memories for me. I think one of the most difficult aspects to reconciliate when making the choice to have a child, was the thought of him/her going through the same kind of experience(s) I had. It has haunted my thoughts of motherhood, and I just really expected it to be a big cause of anxiety for me when the time came. Then I realized that she attended that week long session a few weeks ago, and I didn’t even think about it beyond the logistics of transportation and what she was going to wear. And in my mind I know that she starts pre-K in a week and a half, and although I’m not crazy about this growing-up-so-fast thing, I’m fine with her going to school. I’m not a mess! It kind of snuck up on me, this acceptance, and I’m so glad it did. All of the exposure and socialization I’ve engaged her in to this point has paid off…between her dance classes and play dates, trips and overnights spent outside the house, she’s already formed a personality at 4 that is independent, very outgoing, and miles ahead of the little girl I was at 5.

  126. as a mom of two little girls, I know all about finding the balance between holding on and letting go.
    We need to have our own lives, as do our little ones.
    I’m glad you’re sending her to kindergarten. In the long run I believe it’s for the best.

  127. It is fifty years ago that I recall my first day of school. My mom who was VERY pregnant at the time asked if if I could walk the block to school and she would watch me from the porch. I cried all the way down the street and kept looking back at my Mom. Being a shy child I stood alone at recess watching the other kids play. A teacher from another grade came up to talk to me and told me to join the other children. I did and that was the beginning of a good school year. My Kindergarten teacher was not so nice and patient. She was older and crabby, but the other teacher and I became very good friends and I idolized her. She was beautiful, patient and kind and gave me the little push I needed. Lainey is just a little shy like I was, but she will blossom and do very well…I promise.

  128. That was beautiful!! Reminded me of when I left my now 17 year old son at school crying. It was heartbreaking!! We had a routine of him taking a very small picture of the two of us in his pocket. And when he was feeling lonely he would look at the picture. God…I haven’t thought about that in years…thanks for making me cry!! :)

  129. Bless your heart!!! So I am sitting here at my desk wiping tears thinking of poor Lainey on the playground crying!!!!! I know she’ll be better and better every single day. I just took my first born to Kindergarten last week, so I’m feeling it all right there with you. prayers for a better week this week! xoxo

  130. Your post has made me sit here with tears streaming down my face. I am no where near at that stage yet, my daughter is only 20 months, but after reading this your words hit home so much to me.

    You write so unbelievably beautifully.


  131. Simply heart-wrenching. What a gift that you (and Lainey) have such a strong community around you to love and support you through all the ups and downs of mama-hood. My oldest baby is starting Grade 1 this year, in a new school and a new daycare, and my heart still breaks when she asks how many more sleeps until a “home day”. Thanks for sharing your heart <3 And can I say how ah-mazing it is that you and Glennon are friends in real life? There is so much beauty and truth and love that explodes from both of you – I can only imagine what you’ll be able to accomplish now that you’ve joined forces :)

  132. It’s like our own little hell when we have to walk out of that classroom and leave our crying baby behind. I did it last Thursday, too, and it killed me. My instincts were screaming at me to run, not walk, back into that room, scoop him up and never let go. But…having done this three times before, I knew that he would be ok. That each day, it would be a little less terrifying for him and less traumatic for me. He still cries silently on the playground for home, he still misses his mommy and wishes all day he was home but today he walked out of his classroom with a smile on his face. His official report of the day was, “it was mostly ok with some small parts of good.” I think we’ll take that as a success and celebrate. :)

    I know each day will get easier for Lainey. One of these days there will be no more tears and some day, she will be the mama leaving her baby at kindergarten and she’ll understand just how hard that first day was for you.

  133. Oh, my heart hurt reading this. I remember both my kids’ first day of school even though it’s been 40+ years ago. I think it was harder on me than on them. But you know? You’re right, Lainey will be just fine.

  134. First let me say that I by no means want you to take this the wrong way because I absolutely love your blog but I felt like I had to say something. I know this is your first child that is going to school but Lainey senses your apprehension and so you have to put on your brave face for her and let her go! Waiting outside her classroom can’t be giving her good signals. It’s like she knows you are out there waiting and she probably can’t wait to come out! When my oldest went to Kindergarten (he is now 24!) he cried too and I felt like a terrible mother sending him off but you have to…its part of life…no one said it was going to be easy!
    When you go to leave your 18 year old at college where he/she knows no one….THAT is hard! Way harder then Kindergarten believe it or not! We cried for days! lol…Lainey will be fine….you will be fine…its reaching down deep inside you and finding the strength for the both of you. Smile proud and don’t let her see you slip and soon that grip that she holds onto tight will turn into “oh I wish she’d hold my hand again”…..

  135. Aw, I’m so sorry it was rough.

    When my older daughter started kindergarten, her dad and I had to pull over to the side of the road after we dropped her off the first day because we were crying so hard. She had no problems the first week, but cried every day the second week! Things evened out eventually, and last week she started ninth grade. She didn’t cry, but I did. :) It’s awfully hard to let go, whether they’re five or fourteen. Hang in there, you’re doing a wonderful, wonderful job.

  136. Broke my heart when I heard Lainey was crying. I still remember my first day of 1st grade, (no kindergarten in those days,) and how sad I was to leave my momma. I remember the second day was better because I found a girl friend and to make a very long story short, we remained BEST FRIENDS through-out our school days. Hugs to you sweet momma~~~~It does get easier!

  137. Mine are now 21 and 26. Neither cried, but I can remember watching my daughter walk in and I was thinking “I really don’t know those people that well, and I am giving them my baby.” and I a a teacher! As another poster said, don’t let Lainey see your apprehension. Let her learn to enter and exit the school by herself. Build her confidence. I think the role play at home in the beginning is a good idea. Lainey has lots of friends, but they are probably your friends’ children. Help her learn how to meet new friends at recess. I have great faith that with all you have taught her she’ll have several ‘besties’ in no time.

  138. I finished reading your post and thought, thank god, she doesn’t micromanage her kids feelings!!
    The teacher who is going to be kind to your child is the teacher who knows what it’s like to feel lost as a little child, so if we don’t experience these things as a child, what sort of adults will we be?
    They are here for their own journey, parts of it are to be without us, good on you for recognizing that.

  139. That email from a wonderful friend had Glennon written all over it from sister to mama! So thrilled two of the best bloggers out there now exist in a world where they can have coffee. We are lucky to have you both!
    Lainey is going to ROCK this school thing!

  140. We adopted our daughter from China when she was six months old. We were fortunate in that we were both able to stay home with her for 18 months afterwards. Good times. However, we began to notice that she didn’t know how to play with other toddlers!

    We decided to enroll her in the daycare at our local YMCA part time at first, but transition to full time as we were nearing the time we needed to make some money again!

    I think what bothered me the most about leaving her the first day was that no one, NO ONE is going to love her the way we do. NO ONE was going to take care of her like we do. She cried as we left her…but she had nothing on us as we cried all the way home.

    We managed to do something besides look at the clock waiting for those 4 hours to speed by. She was fine and we all grew to love the “family” at the YMCA. She made some many wonderful friends and I truly believe that several of her teachers did love her and care about her…almost as much as us. lol.

  141. I have a 15 month old, and your post hit home on levels I can’t even explain right now. Just want you to know though that it is so nice to know that just when we question ourselves and ask God what we did wrong or could be doing differently, a light shines down and answers it for us :) Thanks for giving this Mama a little light tonight. You are doing a wonderful job with your little angels.

  142. I am so thankful for your blog and your life <3

  143. This was beautiful! I have one more year with my 4 year old twins at home and I am going to rock this year! Choosing no preschool is against the grain from most of my friends, but I am happy to have one more year with them. Thank you for sharing!!

  144. Yes, choosing no preschool or daycare is not the norm these days, but I for one do not believe it hurts children socially. Day care and preschool are modern in our history, people did fine without them socially before they existed! Children do not actually even play together until after two, typically, they usually parallel play. Children have different temperaments, no matter their situation. I was a preschool teacher and there were some children who were shy even though they were in daycare since infancy.I have also met children who never went to daycare and were very socially comfortable.

  145. I am sitting here at work crying my eyes out. Like, my shirt is soaked with tears. I am glad she is ok. I knew she would be ok. I hope it gets better and better and she loves it so much.

    I cried when my baby went to 7th grade this week. He didn’t want to go on Tuesday. Or today. I wish he liked school. It hurts to know he doesn’t. I wish I had a million dollars so I could send him to a Friends school or a special place that would be more accepting of children that are unique. : (

    I just prayed for your baby this morning. I hope her day is perfect.

  146. I cried for the first week of school. I missed my mom. My teacher suggested to my mom that we get up earlier and play a game together before school. Bless my mother’s heart for those early morning chutes and ladder games. It worked wonders and I was much happier.

  147. My honest, truthful reaction…I’m glad my little one’s first experience away from her mama won’t be Kindergarten. I went to pre-K two mornings a week the year before Kindergarten. I think those two mornings a week were great “baby steps” for what was to come. That said, neither of my little bros went to pre-K and while the transition was rougher for them, they both eventually loved school. Just took a little longer. πŸ˜‰

  148. 2 things!
    1) I love you but everytime you post something about Heidi, I think how lucky you are to have a wonderful friend like her. She sounds so real and amazing.
    2) My 6 year old was sitting on my lap while I was reading this and said “I didn’t know Carly Rae Jepson was a mom!1″ Coming from her, that is high praise Kelle!!

  149. I don’t normally comment…however, this post…this one has touched my heart, prompting the words to go from my brain to my fingertips.

    Thank you for being so open and putting your words out there for me to see, feel and almost hear.

    It will get better, but its oh so bittersweet. I love how you embrace life so fully, even the not so sweet moments.

  150. I am so dreading the day my boys start school. I was just talking to my husband about it. I was okay returning back to work 8 weeks after they born, they stay home with daddy. But when they go to school, they are going to be with strangers and alone. I have 4 & 5 years to go and I know they will fly by.
    Your Nella’s curls are just precious and Lainey’s new shoes, fab.

  151. I am your newest follower, and I am in love with your blog. I sent my middle one to kinder this year and it was heart breaking. I look forward to reading through your blog and finding encouragement in your words!


    I am also on Instagram @MamaVsqz

  152. We went through something close to the same thing this week.. My 12 year old went back to “brick and mortar school” after 3 years at in a home based virtual charter school. I didnt like the choices we were offered for intermediate school (grades 4-6) so we looked outside the “box” It worked SO well! So…when my Caitlin BEGGED to return to “regular” school this year, my heart sank. “But, I’ll MISS YOU!” I told her. She smiled and said “oh mom, you’ll do fine.” ha. Her confidence thrilled/terrified me. The first day she hopped out of the car with barely a wave and went to join her classmates in line… as I drove off I got a text. “Dont worry mama, you got this. See you at 3″ I love that it never even occured to her to be nervous for herself. She was most concerned with MY anxiety! By the way… she was right. 3 o’clock came and I was alive. :)

  153. I just love that photo of Lainey gripping your hand before school…what a story that tells. That made me cry. As a Kindergarten teacher (resigned now to be at home with my baby) I have seen how hard it is on kiddos and Mommas to say goodbye but having my own child now, I get it on a deeper level. My babe is only 1 but I can already imagine how challenging that first day is gonna be. Great job Momma and I’m sure Miss Lainey is going to continue to amaze you this year in so many ways.

  154. I haven’t ever written but I just wanted to say that I love this post, it might actually be my favorite post you’ve ever written. It’s so real and yet it’s still funny, still poignant and wonderful. I love it and I hope we get to read more like it. I love the email from your friend, it sounds so true and I’m excited to read more as Lainey and Nella grow up and start finding their own small things and moments of beauty. What wonderful shoes for them to grow up learning to fill.

  155. I’ve been away for far too long! Just love reading your words. Feels like ‘echoes in my bones.’ Anyways, I’m glad both of you survived the journey…first day of school is a big one. My eldest started Sr. K on Tuesday and I found it difficult to pull myself from her, even though she went through the whole rigamarole last year.

    Can I tell you a little secret? Shhhhh. There is soooooo much paperwork–and I simply ADORE it. Makes me feel like a real grown-up to have to comb through milk-order forms and fundraising info and school schedules. My girl gets excited to go back to school to see her friends, talk with her teachers and to learn all the cool things kindegarten has in store for her. Me? I love rifling through her backpack after school–reading her teacher’s notes in the agenda, checking out her amazing artwork and just feeling on top of being a mom.

    Love it.

  156. I stumbled on your blog a couple months ago. Your blog is full of life, emotion and the girls are so adorable.. I hadent had the time to do much of anything these last couple weeks because like you, I was also getting ready to send my little one off to kindergarten..

    The first day came, like yours. And after pictures and smiles she turned to me asking to go home. I calmly held back my tears and replied with some sort of convincing words for her and I both telling her we would be fine. The teacher told me it was probably best if I left.. I didn’t want to leave, in fact I was second guessing this whole school ordeal. But I left, walked away from my baby screaming for me.. Telling me she needed me. I cried. Cried for her, for me, you get it.

    I got home, looked up your blog and there it was. A story like mine. It was like you knew exactly what I had just done. I cried more, but thank you. Thank you for relating to such a big ordeal. Thank you for your honesty and uplifting words stating it will get better.. Today wasent good and I am sure the adjustment is going to take time. But you helped me.. From far away it was like I had a friend.. I pray it gets better for you to! I will never question the amount that our kids teach us.. Because my little girl taught me strength and courage. And even at the tender age of 5 I admire her..

    Thanks again!

  157. Reading this post flooded me with memories of dropping my children off to kindergarten. With fear in his eyes I left my son, turned and cried all the way to the car and all the way to work. When the afternnon bus pulled up, I saw his little head leaning against the bus window, eyes shut and fast asleep. He was worn out. At dinner we talked about the next day and he proudly announced, “I did school today and I’m done!” With many tears the next morning and his beloved Teddy bear in his backpack, off we went. It got easier for both of us each day. Fast-forward to last September and I dropped him off as a college freshman hundreds of miles from home. Those eyes had the same fear and I turned away once again so he didn’t see my tears. I cried all the way to the airport and the entire flight home. We grow together…mother and child. It’s not
    easy, but we take baby steps together into the future. Good luck as you begin your journey into the precious school years. You will marvel at her growth, cry with her disappointments and celebrate her triumphs.

  158. Kelle, this post spoke to me. It was exactly how I felt last Tuesday. My youngest just started preschool. He hates it and everyday at drop off it just absolutely breaks my heart. However, I know he stops crying within one minute of me leaving because I wait and watch. When I pick him up he’s so happy to tell me about all the fun things he did in those short 3 hours, so I video it. I want him to remember that school is fun and mommy always comes back.

  159. Wow, you are an amazing writer.

  160. This post made me cry. My daughter just started Kindergarten. It went better than I expected, but it was so difficult watching the bus pull away with her on it the first day. She loves her teacher and learning, but today we had our first crying day. I had to physically put her on the bus, and hold back tears as she climbed onto it crying! It was a sad mom moment!

  161. I read this post a couple of days ago, and have kept thinking of it since. I wanted to comment at the time, but didn’t know what to say. I was too wrapped up in my own Mom anxiety at the moment. I had to come back to say, “Thank you for writing this”. I sent my daughter to school to grade 7 yesterday, after homeschooling her for 6 years. I was so nervous for her, and spent all day hoping that everything would go well for her. I kept thinking to myself, “She’ll be fine, she has to go through this, she’ll figure things out.” It helped to think of you and your story of sending Lainey to school, and realize other parents struggle with this decision too. It turns out that she didn’t have the best day, but it wasn’t horrible, either. In the midst of day two, I am feeling calmer and more confident with our decision, but I still can’t wait until she gets home at the end of the day!

  162. Hi Kelle, I’ve been away from your blog for a while, but popped by to see what was happening at ETST. I also sent my baby off to Kindergarten this year. The first week was pure torture. Every day she would cry at drop off and every day I would cry all the way out to the parking lot and on. She’d complain her tummy hurt all day long and it just broke my heart. So glad to know your Lainey enjoys school now. Having breakfast at school with my baby is what changed it for her. She hasn’t cried since. Oh, and congratulations on your new bundle :)

  163. My first born starts kindergarten in the next few weeks and I came here looking for comfort (as I am already crying.. of course not letting her see) You’re feelings are so well written and it gives me hope that she (I) will do great!

  164. I’ve been concerned or sad since May. I am not typically like that. I have 3 children, each I admire and love. My youngest started kindergarten this morning. When my first two went to kindergarten I had a baby at home with me. This baby.

    Your post is wonderful. I also kept my second and third children home until kindergarten, no preschool. We did plenty. I am so glad I did. Our family is very close. We rely on each other, really know each other. I also really like my kids as people. My role as parent is primary, but we are friends also. It is a love that words can’t really get to.

    At last Friday Kindergarten Orientation, my youngest was fine till I showed up, which I had to at some point. She seemed fine, nervous. Then she looked at me, whispered ‘Mom,’ then kinda crumpled herself into a ball while still in here seat.
    Other than returning her into my womb, nothing was going to be quite close enough.

    I helped her understand her feelings, herself and her experience. Also talked about how great of a friend she is and how much her teacher already loves her.

    My little one said to me yesterday that she was nervous because she has never been away from me like this before. Sometimes I think the best way I can parent is to just be myself. I told her I felt the same way. That we will be so happy and excited to catch up about our day when she returns home. And, that we will get through this together.

    I have cried many times. Talked to most everyone I can think of who would offer understanding. Tinkering on obnoxious.

    I am made to love and these little ones, along with my husband, are my first receivers of that. My children have done well with what life has thrown at them so far and I believe it is in part because of how much they know me and my love for them.

    Thank you for your blog. It helped a lot. This is tough. And I am resisting spying on recess, at least for today.


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