Dear Tessa: Happy 6th Birthday

Dear Tessa,

Today is your sixth birthday! I asked you yesterday how come you are getting so big and you just shrugged and told me “because.” Fair enough.

You asked for a birthday party with some of your friends from school this year. If we would have let you, you would have invited everyone in your class. But since mom was flying solo for the party, we had to condense it down to a manageable amount of friends.

Four friends and your little sister gathered at our house to celebrate for an afternoon of activities like a scavenger hunt, cupcake decorating session, lunch, and some outdoor play.

I know days like this can sometimes be overwhelming and, thankfully, your sweet friends understand that for you as well.

Every year I say that I cannot believe you are however many years old. And I really cannot believe it. Time is a bandit, mugging me of your youth. However we are always thankful to be celebrating another trip around the sun; and anxious to see what you will do with the year ahead.

After we got home from dropping your friends off, I laid you down for a rest. Smiling from ear to ear, “I really like my birthday party mom. It was fun.” 

From baby girl to big girl, we have loved watching you grow sweet Tessa Bug.

Happiest of birthdays my dear.

Love, Mom.

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…

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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…