Why I Won’t Cry When You Start Kindergarten

When kids face big transitions, I feel like the odd mama out, as the only one who stays dry-eyed. Here's why I won't cry when my baby starts K this week.

August 2017

Dear Essie,

The day you’ve been waiting for since at least last fall is finally here.

It’s time for you to climb onto that big yellow school bus with your sister and start kindergarten. And when you do, I won’t cry, any more than you will.

Part of me is sorry that you can only spend the morning there. I know how much you LOVE school, and how much you can’t wait to learn everything under the sun.

It WILL be fun, and you WILL learn things you don’t know. Just remember that your classmates will be learning so many new things, too. You may not all have the same things to learn; sometimes you may need to catch up to them, and sometimes they may need to catch up to you.

Just because YOU’RE excited to take this step, doesn’t mean all of them are. Some of them may be away from home for the first time. I hope you can help them feel more comfortable in the place you already consider your second home.

Some of them may be sad to leave their families behind. I hope you can reach out to them and be a friend, the kind of friend you’d like them to be to you.

You’re a kind person with a big heart.

You’re also a very hard worker. Some things will come more easily to you than to your classmates. In other areas, you may struggle the most.

That’s OK. We all have different strengths and weaknesses. And you’re lucky to be at a school that builds its schedule around the idea of “W.I.N.” – making sure each child gets “What I Need” to succeed.

You will make lots of new friends at your new school. Always remember that in order to have a friend, you have to BE a friend first.

And the friends you make in the first few weeks of your new school will not all be your friends several years from now, when you’re ready to leave this school building for junior high. Some will; some won’t. And that’s OK.

There will be tears. Eventually, even for you too.

Your tears will come later than your classmates’. Some of them will cry these first few weeks. As will many of their mamas. Heading off to kindergarten is a huge step. For many of them, it’s an overwhelming one.

Your tears will come later on, in the years to come. When life isn’t fair (as it often isn’t). When you lose a friend. Or when you lose your way for a bit. And especially when you face a challenge you just don’t know how to get past.

When those tears come, your dad and your big sister and I will all be there for you, to give you hugs and remind you of how much we love you, and that we’re always here for you.

But in case you wonder

Why I won’t cry

when you get on that big yellow school bus this week, it’s for the same reason I know YOU won’t cry: How could I?

You are SO excited and ready for this step. We’ve spent the first five years of your life helping to get you ready for this day. So have your preschool teachers and classmates, even though none of them will continue on to K with you.

This is where you are supposed to be at this point in your young life, and you are so happy to walk bravely forth into this big, new world. You can’t wait to meet your new teacher and all your new friends.

When you are so happy, how could I be sad? You’re doing what we brought you into this world to do: grow up, and eventually fly a little further away from us, as you continue to blossom into the wonderful and unique person God created you to be.

Watching you grow into that beautiful soul is a joy to my heart, and it makes me smile to see you becoming the person you’re supposed to be.

THAT, my dear Essie, is why I might be the only dry-eyed mama around when the school bus rolls away with all the new kindergarteners this week.

I won’t cry, because YOU will be so very happy and excited. And I will be happy and excited for you, watching you learn and stretch and grow a little more into your own each day.

With all my love, and the dryest eyes and biggest grin around,



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28 thoughts on “Why I Won’t Cry When You Start Kindergarten”

  1. Oh my god! I’m sorry but I did cry reading this post. 🙂 My daughter started day care a year ago and even though I felt we handled it pretty well, this brought back memories. But she was ready for it, she wanted to go out somewhere to play for a few hours everyday. And now she goes to play school. It’s such a big milestone and our kids are more resilient than we think. I’m sharing this with all my friends whose kids are gonna start school soon. I really feel they will be able to relate to it.

    1. Aww – to be honest, even though I didn’t cry when Essie stepped on the bus last week, *I* also cried when reading it, aloud, to my own mother in the final-edits stage. Thank you SO much for passing it along. You’re right, kiddos are SO resilient. They really do follow our cues so much, and you’re right – even if as parents we gulp at some of those big milestones, they are often SOOOO ready for them!

  2. My daughter walked into Kindergarten like she was born for it. Simply said “bye” and joined her class.

    Mommy had separation anxiety on that one 😛

    1. That would totally be both my girls on first day of preschool, AND on first day of kindergarten. They just COULD. NOT. WAIT. 🙂

  3. My son starts kinder on Monday and I’m saving this to read again on Sunday night! I’m a cruel so I need to remember that he is ready for thus next step, even if I’m not.

    1. It’s perfectly fine if you DON’T feel quite “ready” to let him go, though! 🙂 I think part of my own readiness was that I was already of “advanced maternal age” when I had both of them, so I’d already waited so long to get to parenthood, I already feel “old” and don’t need these milestones to make me feel any “older” 🙂

  4. My daughter didn’t have any tears when she started school at the age of 3 – at the school gate on the first day she told me “you can go now, I’ll be okay!” I may have shed a tear in the car, but it was of happiness because she was so happy.

    1. OMG, both of mine marched RIGHT INTO PRESCHOOL on their first day (age 2) without a backward glance! I think they would have run if they thought it would be OK! (Fortunately, they somehow figured out that this would not be a good idea – I can just imagine them tripping and skinning their knees on Day One!)

  5. Oh this is SO sweet. It works for college too. I miss my Teenager SO MUCH but she is loving this exciting part of her life, so I’m just bursting with happiness for her.

    1. Aww…good to know, Darlene! Of course you’ve still got Babystar at home so no empty nest yet – BUT – I’m glad to know I’m not the only weird mama out there who stays dry-eyed! 🙂 *Thanks*

    1. Thanks! It IS – and she’s so excited, she was all but bouncing off the walls when I put her to bed awhile ago!…

    1. Aww – *thanks, Thena! I hope that now that s/he is there, you will have a heart full of joy as the year goes on and you watch your youngest blossom and grow!

  6. This is so beautiful! But so important too!
    Give them wings and let them fly – even if it means leaving you behind.
    Parenting is tough.
    Where’s my tissues!

    1. *Thank you* Dilraz. As another commenter mentioned, if we’ve done our jobs right as parents, then they should be ready to fly further and further away from us as time goes on…:)

    1. They DO grow quickly! But whenever a phase seems too fast, I remind myself of the unpleasant parts of it (like those months of sleep deprivation with a newborn, or years and YEARS of diaper changes), and then it really DOES seem like a long time, and I can reflect happily on how much they’ve grown and how far they’ve come! 🙂

    1. *Thank you* Jiya. We went to meet their teachers yesterday, and Essie went right in and got comfortable in her new classroom – she cannot wait to start tomorrow, and it brought me such joy to see her in her element!

    1. This is all very true. And maybe being an “older” parent has something to do with it for me, too…I waited so long to have my girls, that I was good and ready for each milestone when it came (so far at least), and there’s no “making me feel old” at these transitions because I already know I’m old(er than the other moms) lol!

    1. *Thank you*. It was harder to write than I thought it would be, so I’m glad I was able to find the right words in the end. Essie read it with me and agrees that we will both be all grins when the big moment comes!

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