I know. I know. You’re not a baby. You remind me of that every time I coo “baby” at you—by accident. You’re a big boy—so big these days. I know.
But you were *just* my baby. And I’m stopping to remember what these last few years have meant—to both of us.
This moment of you entering school feels like the end of our “young years” together.
School starts now—and so do friendships, homework and long days outside our home. A wonderful world awaits you my sweet boy, but that new beginning also closes a chapter of the baby years. And that makes my heart swell and feel like it’s about to burst out of my overly-emotional chest.
Five years doesn’t seem like that long ago—but we’ve accomplished so much together.
We survived extreme morning sickness, together. (Barely.)
We lived through a rough birth and hard days of breastfeeding. You don’t remember it, but I worried for weeks if you were getting enough to drink and cried desperate tears when you came in underweight at your first pediatrician’s appointment. (You turned out okay.)
We coped with postpartum anxiety when I was too scared to take you out of the house. It took us months, but we finally figured out how to not worry so much about it all.
We overcame sleep deprivation and sleep training and that one night that you didn’t sleep at all. #partyinyourcrib
We grew, too. I watched the growth cycles as your belly became round, followed by a big spurt upwards. And I grew into my role as a mother—growing less worried and more confident that while we might not know exactly what we’re doing, we were going to wing it together.
We expanded our family. You gained two siblings in your five short years, and we worked through transitions and change and sharing and loving and squeezing (a little too hard) your baby brother and sister.
We discovered the world anew, together. You helped me to find my playful side as we rode bikes and went for walks; hunted for bugs and chased geese. We climbed playgrounds and drew pictures. We held Lion Guard dance parties.
We luxuriated in these long stretches of childhood innocence. I watched your eyes sparkle when you flew a kite, assembled a puzzle, and discovered how to read. These simple pleasures, I got to experience with you.
We also waded through tantrums and challenges and perplexing behavioral issues. We lived through days when it seemed bedtime would never come.
These five years have been filled with the highest highs—and some difficult lows.
And now, kindergarten is here—all too soon.
Kindergarten is the launching point of your life beyond our family. And that’s a very good thing, but it’s a bittersweet thing, too.
As you begin this journey, I have many hopes and dreams for you—
I hope that you learn about the beautiful people in our diverse world, and find your place within it.
I hope you find friends who laugh at your jokes, let you into their secret clubs and invite you to their birthday parties.
I hope that you learn that it’s more than okay to fail—it means you’re pushing yourself to your limits—and that you discover new insights about yourself along the way.
I hope you learn that there’s no substitute for hard work and extended effort even when every bone in your body wants to take the easy way out.
I hope you also find ways to slow down, unplug and look within—to pray, to meditate, to contemplate—in silence, especially as you grow up in a time of screens and digital addiction.
I hope that when you find out about the very hard and painful things your family, your country and your world have been through, your heart is moved with empathy and stirred to action.
I hope that you unlock the creativity inside of you, and express the many facets of your personality in artistic expression that speaks truth for you.
I hope you learn to do hard things—stand up for the kid others are picking on, go out of your way to be kind, or take on some task others are overlooking.
I hope you enjoy the (mostly) innocent world of crushes and first feelings of liking someone–a lot. Those feelings of love and longing make the future seem magically, wonderfully full of possibility. And may someone sweetly crush on you, too.
I hope you appreciate all the effort the adults in your life put into teaching and guiding and coaching and supporting you. (You probably won’t until you’re a parent like I am, and that’s okay too—it’s normal.)
I hope that when you encounter a roadblock on your journey, you don’t see it as a reflection of your worth, but an opportunity to try and discover something new.
I hope you see your siblings looking up to you and reach down to show them you care. They admire you and adore you—don’t forget them as you launch into your own little world.
I hope that home will always be your safe place—and will do everything I can to keep it that way.
You’re going to do amazing things. We’re already SO incredibly proud of you.
We’ve loved you before you were born.
This post first appeared on Mother.ly