All week, I've had this image in my mind of feeding you in the middle of the night when you were just weeks new. Tucked in our new black leather la-z-boy recliner in the early hours of the morning, when our neighborhood was dark and it seemed you and I were the only two souls up in the entire world, I used to do a lot of thinking during this time. With motherhood so fresh and new, I remember feeling as if life existed in this little bubble, safe and protected and unaffected by the world outside of us. Those days weren't easy, full of sleepless nights, poopy diapers, and learning to live inside this new skin of being your mom, but they were simple and sweet and fragile. If I heard any advice when I became a mom, it was along the lines of how fast the baby stage goes, even if some days seemed anything but that.
There in the dark, with Jimmy Fallon's Late Night on mute so I could hear the sounds of your squeaks as you ate, I used to think about you getting big, hitting milestones like your first day of kindergarten, and at the time, they felt so far away. Some days, the hard days, those big milestones couldn't come fast enough, but every time we'd find ourselves on the other end of one of them, we'd miss those days as fast as we watched them go. It was in these moments I started to learn the unexplained juxtaposition of being a mom. I could feel indescribable love and at my wit's end at the very same time. I could be so excited to watch you grow and learn and hit big milestones, but feel my heart ache in response. I had dreams of watching you fly, but longed to keep you in this bubble of mine for as long as I could.
And now, just like that, we're here. Your first day of kindergarten. You've been ready for kindergarten for awhile, a daycare kid who's been walking in lines, rotating in centers, and learning the ropes of recess since you were two, yet the weight of today has hit me in ways I wasn't quite expecting. For the first time, it seems like our bubble is about to pop. Especially when drop-off instructions tell me I'm supposed to leave you at the front entrance instead of walk you to your classroom! Sometimes, it feels like the bubble has popped and other times it feels like I'm sending you straight to the wolves! Will you know where to go? Will you make friends? Will you listen to your teacher? Will you be able to find your snack in the front pocket of your backpack? Will you be able to carry your own tray in the lunchroom? Deep down I know you'll do fine, but I'm not sure my heart will.
You have always been the most nonchalant boy, but lately you've been showing me there's a lot more under there than what you sometimes let on. I can't talk about you getting big without your jaw tightening up and your eyes filling with tears. The other night, I had my computer out and was showing you old blog posts of when you were little. I came across a video I had made after I found out Mila was a girl, featuring a sweet little Cruz opening a box with a pink balloon. As we watched the video and listened to the song, at one point I commented, "look at how happy you and Mila made me." And as I looked over at you to see a tear running down your cheek, you responded, "and now I have happy tears." There we sat together on the couch, in that familiar bubble, feeling happy and sad at the same time.
The older I get and the longer I do this parenting thing, the more I let myself truly live in these moments. For these are the ones that reveal the deepest kind of love. Or as I explained it to Cruz - the Inside Out moments. The ones when you feel all sorts of things, when the control panel is all over the place and those little emoticons are vying to take the lead. They're the glass balls that get stored in the longterm memory vault, the ones that show us love and become part of our story. A story I can't wait to watch unfold.
Cruz, I want you to have the best day today. I want you to explore your new classroom and get to know your wonderful teacher and make a few new friends. I want you to listen, and laugh, and learn something brand new. I want you to be kind, be brave, and be just how God made you to be. God's spirit fills your heart and he will empower you to do wonderful things this year. And I cannot wait to have a front row seat to it all.
Happy first day of kindergarten, Cruz. Is it 1:50 yet? :)
"I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources He will empower you with inner strength through His spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your heart as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God's love and keep you strong. And you may have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand it fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God."