Dear Tessa: Kindergarten Eve

Dear Tessa,

It is the night before kindergarten, and we helped you get ready. (Right here is where I nearly broke into poetry, but the only word I could come up with to rhyme with ready was spaghetti, and that pretty much ruined it for me).

Back to business…

We completed your minion project to bring back to your teacher tomorrow. Your pink hearts and unicorn book bag is packed and waiting by the front door, where we will adjust it on your tiny shoulders just before we leave the house. It is full of all of many things you need, and probably some things you don’t.

We played outside tonight, stealing the last of summer’s glory; soaking up every moment before it was time to come back in.  After dinner you climbed up the stairs, step by step, chatting with your dad the entire way to the bathtub. When he offered to rinse your hair, you told him you could do it yourself.

Kindergarten Eve

You handpicked your outfit and laid it out on your dresser; brushed your teeth and asked me to brush your hair. Normally bedtime is a little intense.  Tonight was no different.  Bedtime was accompanied by the usual dose of drama and restlessness; a routine your dad and I are numb to by now.  Once you and your sister settled down, we sat on your bed and read The Night Before Kindergartena book given to you at your birthday party; and we sprinkled Ready Confetti made with magic Jitter Glitter under your pillow as provided by your new teacher. I hugged you harder and longer than I have in a long time.  For the life of me, I could not let go.  Then I kissed your forehead, told you I loved you and wished you sweet dreams.

In true Tessa fashion, you are as cool as a cucumber.  Not nervous or scared; just poised and ready to go.

How did this happen so fast?  From baby to big girl in the blink of an eye…

baby to big girl

I asked your daddy how he was doing?  He took a deep breath and then another one, and said, “I’m okay.”  I replied the same back to him.

As long as you always believe in yourself and know how great you are, you will do big things in this world.  We just know it.  Promise me that you know it too?  Tomorrow is a big day, and you are going to do awesome.

Spread your wings and fly sweet girl.

Love, Mom…and daddy, too.

The Big K

On Thursday, Tessa will have her first day of kindergarten.  That’s right.  The big K.  I would be lying if I said I was not feeling a bit unsettled about it all right now. Thankfully, I am very distracted with other projects and deadlines so I am not completely focused on the fact that my firstborn is heading to school full-time for the next however many years. As excited as I am for her, I am equally as nervous. Even though she has been in school for two years, there is still a knot in the pit in my stomach as we gear up for this transition.  I have a hard time explaining it.  Like a twinge of heartache mixed with immeasurable joy.

She is so excited, and she talks about starting kindergarten in her new school all the time.  One of my jobs as her mom is to fortify her excitement and reassure her that this next adventure will be grand; while fighting back mama tears and worry.  Standard parent stuff, right?

I know, I know…I have to suck it up, set aside my sentimental baggage and just be there for her.  There is nothing I can do to change the fact that she is growing up. And thank goodness for that; otherwise I may have kept her little forever.  This is the first step toward her forever.  From Thursday on, her life as a kid changes and my life as her parent does too.  This is one of the things–not so long ago–that we hoped for, prayed for and dreamed about.  The first day of kindergarten.  I remember a time when we worried she might not see this day. Here we are, just days away, and I marvel at how it will go.  Now my hopes and dreams for her at school have shifted to her finding her niche, making new friends and progressing her education. And, more importantly, to continue to carry and sprinkle her infectious joy around like pixie dust to those she meets along the way.  

My girlfriend has a daughter two weeks younger than Tessa who also has Down syndrome. So she gets it…all of it. The age, the attitude(s), the diagnosis, the need for wine nights, and the roller-coaster ride we often find ourselves on together. She also knows why this new phase tugs extra on the heart.  This is the picture I text her today.  Just sending my girl off to kindy like…


How long will it take me to leave her classroom after I drop her off that first morning?  I imagine longer than necessary.  You know, just in case she changes her mind about this whole school thing. I will also more than likely arrive entirely too early for pickup as well.  I take my role as “that mom” seriously.

Is everyone this beat up over that first big day or is it just me?  I kid.  I really will be fine.  Even if it takes three bags of dark chocolate Ghirardelli squares to make it through.  While the veteran moms are out celebrating and high-fiving each other after their kids are off to school (which I envy by the way), I will be eating my feelings in the corner booth of a little breakfast diner.  The rest of you kindy first-timer moms are welcome to join me.

Here we go…