I Wasn’t Ready, But I Had to Let Her Go


In the days leading up to the first day of kindergarten, I agonized over everything. “Will she get motion sick on the bus?” “Will she be able to find her classroom?” “Will she be able to open everything in her lunchbox?” And of course, “Will she make friends?” The anticipation is the worst. When the first day of school arrived, and I watched my oldest daughter climb up those big steps and disappear into her seat on the bus, I held in my tears until the bus drove away. I wasn’t ready, but I had to let her go.

It feels like yesterday that I was in the hospital preparing to bring her home. I didn’t know her “I’m hungry” cry from her “I’m tired” cry and I was feeling more fatigued than I’d ever felt in my life, but I did know that I loved this little baby so much it physically hurt, and I would do anything to protect her. Everyone told me that time would fly by, but when the newborn days felt excruciatingly hard, I didn’t want to believe them.

Unfortunately, all of those people were right. Over time, I learned her cries and discovered her personality, started sleeping again, and soon enough, I was graduating from the newborn, toddler, and preschool days to become an elementary school mom. Much like all of the firsts I experienced when she was younger, I now feel the growing pains of having a child away at school all day. I had to let her go.

Motherhood is like that. One season of letting go after another. We let go when they learn to walk. We let go when they feed themselves. We let go when they are playing on the playground for the first time, attending their first dance class, or getting on the school bus. And we will continue to let go, repeatedly, until they are adults, and perhaps beyond that. Letting go of my daughter this year is just a small step in her childhood, but such a significant one too.

As it turns out, she will not get motion sickness on the bus, she will not find her classroom, but someone will help her find her way there, she will know how to open everything in her lunchbox, and she will make a friend on the bus. I still love her so much it physically hurts, and I would do anything to protect her, but I will be doing it from a distance now because I have to let her grow up.

The anticipation is worse than the real thing, and I had to let go to realize that.