Wednesday, September 4, 2013


My heart was pounding and I was shaking a little when the technician put a tiny tourniquet around his arm and checked his vein.   The man was smiling widely, reassuring both me and my son; as he lowered the chair table to give my son’s arm some stability, I said, “It’s just like a roller coaster!” more brightly than I felt.  My son liked that idea, and said, “Yes, it’s like the roller coaster at Sea World!” I held him tightly and wondered if I might pass out.  I am not good with needles. 

As the man slid the tiny needle into my son’s arm, I held him and braced myself and waited for the flinch and the scream from my three-year-old.   I looked away from the needle and heard…

Nothing.  Not a peep.  Not a flinch.  My brave boy watched curiously, as if the tube of blood was the most interesting thing in the world, and I laughed with relief.  I had put this off for months, worried that it was going to be an ordeal for both of us. Now I wondered why I had waited so long. 

He is so much stronger than I give him credit to be.  

I packed his first school lunch today for preschool, and the results of that blood test are on my mind: unfortunately, it was not the news we had hoped for; he is still off-the-charts allergic to eggs.  I think about the girl who had a fatal reaction to a snack with hidden peanuts, and I worry about him sharing food at school and not understanding that he should say no.

Every day, I try to relax and give in to the rhythm of raising a little boy with plenty of energy and joie de vivre to spare.  Every day, I worry about giving him enough slack to explore without giving myself a heart attack in the meantime.  

He has been role-playing with his lovey; he tells me that Bunny is allergic to peanuts, as I am, and he is allergic to eggs.  He seems to understand the concept of not taking food that is not his, but he is still so small, to me.  So big.  And still so small.  

Lost in thought, I assemble each element to place into his new Curious George lunch box, yellow and shiny.  The labels are brightly colored and identify all of his things as his.

Did I sticker too many things?

Do I still need to cut these grapes in half?

Is he going to choke on these pretzels without me there?

What if he is sad at school?

Come on, get a grip, I chastise myself.  He is four.  He can handle all of this.

But I won’t be there to help him.

Let go.  

But I am scared.

It’s OK to be scared.  You’re a good mom.

I don’t want to cry at dropoff.

Do your best to smile in front of him.  He needs to know that you are strong.

Letting go is my least favorite thing about parenting. 

I have to trust that his teachers will take good care of him, and know that this step is good for him.  He loves to play and be with other children, and he has met and likes many of his classmates already.  

The night before his first day of school, I held him in my arms after his bath and rocked him like a baby, just for a minute, until he wiggled away.  Then he sat up and we talked about school, and I told him that his favorite superheroes go to school.  

“Even Thor?”

“Even Thor, yes.”

“Batman too?”

“Yes.  Batman hangs out with Superman and The Flash and Wonder Woman, and they all learn and play and have a great time together.”

“Why can’t you go with me, Mama?”   It squeezed my heart.

I told him the story about when I was a little girl and started preschool, and the way I said "Bye, Mom!" without another look back. We practiced saying, "Bye, Mom!"

It’s one of many steps he will have to take without me.  Away from me.  Necessary, but not easy.  

I walk him into his classroom and put his lunchbox and snack in the appropriate bins, and hang his tiny new backpack with Bunny inside on his peg.  The teachers are waiting, their kind faces smiling at each child and offering hugs as desired.  My son is already interested in the dinosaurs on the table, and I get ready to make my exit.

"See you later!" I say, tears in my throat.

"Bye, Mom and Dad!" he says, just like we practiced.

And we walk out the door.   My new friend Shelley is there and sees the look on my face; she stops to give me the hugs I need right at that moment.  You're a good mom, she tells me. 

He is much stronger than I give him credit to be.  He will be fine; letting go gives him the chance to show how strong and independent he is.

I know I'm stronger than I give myself credit to be, too.  We're growing, together.  



  1. If I was there, I would have had to choke back tears also, just like I did with you many years ago. You did good!

  2. Oh, this touched me so much. Today is the first day in fourth grade for my oldest. And the week after next, my youngest will start preschool. I feel so many of the emotions you describe here. I am sentimental and don't want to cry in front of him, but I know it will be a struggle. I agree - letting go is the hardest thing about parenting.

  3. I adore the picture! Too cute :) I remember sending Ethan to preschool and crying. But when I sent the girls, I was excited for them. I don't know what the difference was, but there was a difference.

  4. Sigh. I know this all too well. A week and a half into kinder and I still get sappy. I was so worried about Rachel going to school without Claire yesterday, but like Torin, she's stronger than I give her credit. She came out and said she had an awesome day. They're all going to be okay. It's often harder on us than it is them.

  5. Yes, you can definitely give yourself more credit. So much strength in this post. That's probably my least favorite part of parenting too--the letting go. It's much, much easier to hold tightly. But then again sometimes letting go feels so good. Hope you both have the very best first day :) xx

  6. My daughter is allergic to peanuts and every day when I send her to daycare I have the same fears. Did I teach her to say no enough? Did I send her with the right tools? I can't imagine school yet.
    Thinking of you.

  7. Love this: "Letting go gives him the chance to be strong."

    I'm with you on this whole post. I hate letting go, too. But when they succeed on their own, I am over the moon proud and happy. Almost makes the letting go part okay.


  8. Yes you are! This is lovely, Kristin!

  9. Sigh. I know how hard it is to send a little-bitty 4yo with allergies off to school. Sigh. I know. And also, just sending such a little person off on their own in general. Hugs, mama!

  10. Lookie you, awesome Mom! I suck at letting go, too. It's funny, we want them to thrive and grow and have wonderful lives...but could they just do it within arm's reach, please?

  11. This is great!

    You are a wonderful mom and have taught him to be brave and strong in so many ways. I hope to be as great of a mom as you are someday.

    I know he will have a wonderful time in preschool with new friends and having new experiences.

    I miss you all so much!

  12. SO beautiful. The letting go never gets easier, but seeing them grow and thrive and become independent is truly one of the greatest gifts a parent could ever receive. You ARE a good mom---you are an EXTRAORDINARY mom. I am blessed to read your wisdom and eloquence.

  13. Oh Kristin.
    Part of me is so glad I can't be at drop-off on the first day and part of me is even sadder about his first day because I can't be there. I will probably cry before I leave for work on Monday knowing my little guy is going off to be a big guy.

    This post is perfect. It's so hard to let go...but so necessary.

  14. Letting go is my least favorite part of parenting too. At least it's character building to keep doing it over and over, right? That's what I tell myself.
    My daughter amazes me, not only in all of the ways she's strong and brave and mainly - all right - it's also about all of the ways she isn't like me when I was four. Four for me was a hot mess after the sudden loss of a parent. So I never knew what to expect with her turning four. I have to say, I like it a lot.

  15. I have tears that want to squeeze out, but I'm telling them to back off. ;-)

    I would be worried about the allergies too. I made vegan brownies for my friend's daughter yesterday because she's allergic to eggs and dairy. It was really good - my own recipe too!

    It's easier to let go. My youngest is 4 too, but a 9 and a 7 have already paved the way. He also squiggles out of my arms when I try to hold him too long. And I do.

  16. I totally agree. Letting go is one of the hardest things to do. So bittersweet. Hope you filled yourself up after drop off with thoughts about how much more time you will be spending with him now :)

  17. Awwww love, yes. You are both strong. And he will do so, so well. I just know it.

  18. Oh geez, the allergies. Not that they're the most important part of this post, of course, but I wonder when (if ever) I will stop everything to check the phone for the school's number when it rings.

  19. Oh, I know and I hear you. I cried buckets the first day of 3 year ld Sunday School without me, and the first play date without me, and the first time he went out with daddy without me, and the first day of school, and the first 6th grade dance, and...

    People, trying to help, or what else I don't know, but anyway, they'll say, "You think kindergarten is bad?? Just wait till college, or till they're married, or till they move away..." or whatever.

    The thing is, the moment of their growth, every time, you go with them. And you feel it. How can you not. In our world, there is no separation by bone or skin. We are IN THEM.

    Who says the cord is cut just because the Doctor did it.

    It's there, mama, you don't see it, but in our dimension, it's there.



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