As you skip up the walkway and get into line with a group of your peers, all bright eyed and fresh faced with hope and dreams and the future in your eyes, I promise not to lose my shit in front of the friends you don’t know you’ll make yet. I won’t embarrass you and bawl. I won’t scream your name and tell you to tie your shoe because you’re jumping around and I can foresee the future of you tripping on your own laces and face-planting in the hallway. I won’t lick my finger and wipe away the leftovers from your breakfast off your cheek.
When I come in to wake you that morning, I assure you I will not stir you with my sobs while I stare at your sweet sleeping eyes and think about all of the times I have watched you sleep. Carefully sneaking into to your room to gaze at you longingly, to study the rise and fall of your chest. Expertly moving out of the room begging not to wake you or there would be hours of hell to pay, but I couldn’t help but watch you breathe one more time before bed.
I vow not to tell you that as you were getting ready this morning and making sure you picked out your best clothes and combed your hair to perfection that I was thinking about the day you came into this world and took me by storm. How beautiful and perfect you were and how I stroked that same hair with my hands, in the same way you are now as I nursed you into the wee hours of the night. How I too, carefully picked your clothes before you even took your first breath so that I could make sure to document the moment, with the best photos, and never forget.
I pledge while you sit and eat the special breakfast I made for your very first day, I won’t tell you about the look on your face when you tried a new food that you realized you liked and the faces you would make when you didn’t. I won’t tell you about all of the messes, the noodles stuck in your hair and the sauces rubbed on your high chair like paint and the discolored baths that followed. I won’t tell you that even if in those moments I was frustrated, I was tired, or I seemed mad, in this moment, I would do it all again.
I swear on my life I won’t tell you stories about how through my sleep-deprivation, my stress, my long days, that even though I may have appeared defeated and tired, I (secretly) loved waking up extra early with you and sneaking in extra snuggles. I adored watching the sun come up with you in my arms while you fell back asleep…. but my coffee was finally kicking in and now I was wide awake. Just studying you. Memorizing the lines on your lips, the wrinkles in your neck, how you smelled, your perfect little nose, those miniature ears. The way you smiled in your sleep. Your incredible sense to reach up, even when you were fully enveloped in dreamland, to search with your fingers for my face before you sighed with relief and continued on snoozing away.
And after the day is over, I cross my heart that while I hear your stories about all of the friends you made, your new independence and the experiences you’ve had (and will have) that didn’t include me, I won’t tell you that I missed you. That after I walked away and left you in the hands of the school, your teachers, your friends…. I cried today. How I thought about all of the things we could have been doing if you weren’t busy at school, without me. I won’t tell you that I worried about how you were alone with no one to hold your hand and guide you. But you weren’t lonely at all. I was. But I promise I won’t tell you that.