My dearest Samuel,
Tomorrow, impossibly, you start Kindergarten.
Sam, I don’t even know how to start this. I’ve written five different paragraphs to try to describe how I’m feeling and they all fall short. I keep reworking my sentences and moving commas. I keep hitting enter. It occurs to me that I’m trying to put this off. You’re just my tiny little guy. How can we be here already?
I’ve visualized you walking across the street to climb into that big yellow bus where you don’t even have to wear seatbelts! I’ve watched you in interactions with strangers to try to assess how you will adjust when your world expands. l’ve worried over what to make you for lunch and how to accommodate your food anxieties. I bought your school supplies and let you pick out a ridiculous Incredibles 2 backpack. I filled out the paperwork and took you to open house where you first gave your teacher a high five and then leaned in for the hug. I’ve tried to imagine you in that classroom, sitting at your table, figuring out how to make friends without your sister there to guide the process.
I did all the things, but I still can’t figure out how we’ve already arrived here.
The thing is that it’s so easy for me to get caught in the wave of accomplishment. I like to reach the destination. Cross things off the list. I forget that once that wave reaches the shore, it flows back out to sea to begin again. I forget sometimes to feel the spray of the water on my face, the sun kissing my skin; to delight in the wave itself. Some of that is my personality. Some of it is the nature of life. But Sam, when you came to me, you helped me remember the beauty in being. You remind me what softness feels like; what it’s like to pause and just be in love.
I remember when I found out I was pregnant with you – your sister was just 2.5 years old and I was only just starting to sleep again. I won’t lie – we were nervous about what you would bring. But this is the beauty of children: they are each unique, bringing a different set of lessons; a new way to see the world. Sam, you are fast and physical and you have an amazing sense of how your body occupies space. Your dancing is all cartwheels.
But you also have such a gentle, intuitive spirit and a delicate, loving heart. I see this same depth of sensitivity in your dad and in your grandfather. Your favorite place to be is surrounded by the people you love. My wish for you in this world that still so often tells boys that they must harden, is that you hold your gentleness like a treasure that only grows as it is shared.
These last few months as I’ve watched you play, watched your eyes light up when you think of something silly, or your amazement at your own achievements, I feel as though I am watching gears click into place. You are asking bigger questions about death and about life. You are taking joy in solving math problems and assembling your lego sets. You are curious about Minecraft and you want to belong. I am struck by what an honor it is to watch you become, to have you in my life, to see your fingerprints on my bathroom mirror after a shower.
So here we are. The day before your first day. I vacillate between being worried you won’t know what hit you to being deeply convicted that you will be fine. I suppose both are true at the same time. Parenting is complicated because the ground is always shifting; we are always sustaining a tension between letting go and holding on with the added sense that we are never quite doing it right.
And so I will look to you for guidance.
And just as is true for your sisters, I will be your landing spot. I will be your safe space; your mirror when you forget your truth. I will cuddle with you for those extra minutes at night. I will leave the lamp on when you feel afraid. We will share ten kisses and ten hugs.
But even when I’m not actually there, I am still with you. I am in the notes packed in your lunchbox. The heart-shaped rock you find on the playground. The high five you give to your sister as you pass in the hall. The hugs you share with your teacher. Love is love is love is love. And you are so loved, my Sam.