Moms can get first-day jitters, too

It?s amazing the difference a year makes. Last August I was miserably awaiting the birth of our third child. With temperatures averaging 110 degrees, I could do little more than drag myself out of bed each morning. Add to that aching muscles and constant Braxton Hicks contractions, I was more than ready.

The days and weeks didn?t pass nearly fast enough, until all of a sudden, Case was here. He arrived bright and early Aug. 31, a more than welcome start to the day.

But this August, all I want is to stop time, or at least postpone the inevitable?and it?s more than my baby reaching his first birthday. Another of my babies starts kindergarten this week. (And even now I?m fighting the urge to erase that sentence!)

I?ve carefully stepped around the issue all summer. I?ve known the event was looming, but now it?s here and there’s no more hiding.

And I?m sad.

For five years I?ve kept her close. Along with my husband, we have been her primary caregivers and teachers ever since her 6 pound, 1 ounce, little self entered the world. We?ve loved her even longer. Now I have to let her go, and instead of being excited, I feel like part of my heart is breaking.

I?m also scared.

While I truly believe her teacher will be wonderful?there?s no way to go wrong with Mrs. Boldt?I can?t seem to help it! (Kindergarten teachers must be very special people, as they have to deal with a wide range of emotions from the children?and also the parents.)

I?m afraid of the unwelcome ?knowledge? that comes with the welcome.

I?m afraid of germs. Yes, germs. As you might recall, Gracelyn had a splenectomy at 2. So the scary words ?compromised immune system? are always flashing around my subconscious.

And I?m afraid of getting replaced as the central figure in my child?s life. I suppose that?s a bit extreme?just blame it on my baby starting school and my baby turning 1 all in the same month.

I?m also pretending.

I?m covering up all my emotion for my big girl. She?s a mix of scared and excited, and her little sister is sad to see her best friend go.

And that?s what parents do, right? As a parent, I love to give my children gifts. And sometimes those gifts come in the form of a brave face and brave words, even when my stomach is churning and the tears are brimming.

So I will help her mark all her school supplies, and we will talk about how much fun school will be. I will help her lay out her first-day-of-school outfit, and we will talk about exciting it is to be a kindergartener. I will tuck her in and help her fall asleep, and to calm her nerves (and mine!), we will talk about how much Jesus loves her and how He?s there, even when Mommy isn?t.

I will take her first-day-of-school picture and make note that she wants to be an artist when she grows up. (But I won?t let myself go there yet. The calendar has to flip to August a lot of times before that happens.)

And after all of that?after I write this column without crying, after I take her to school and make it out of the classroom before crying?I imagine that Friday?s goodbyes will be a little easier than Thursday?s. But still, I will try not to think about the difference another year will make.