My very first post on this blog, almost six years ago, announced the arrival of my third child - Lily Baker George.
Tomorrow, that baby goes to kindergarten.
Lily Baker came into this world looking, as my friend once told me, "like her daddy spit her out."
She was the most laid back baby, probably out of necessity since Ann Catherine was only 17-months-old when she was born.
She grew into a very funny child, a child who often uses humor to diffuse uncomfortable situations - or to try and get out of trouble. She constantly makes us laugh.
She is also incredibly independent for her age. She is full of confidence. I have often said about her, "I could drop Lily Baker into any situation and she would swim - not sink."
I have always loved that quality in her.
It may prove to be my undoing tomorrow.
She is just so ready for kindergarten. She walked into orientation Friday with her backpack on her back and her nap mat in her hand, and she refused to let me help. She walked into her room, said hello to her teacher, found her name and her seat and began unpacking her backpack like she had been doing this for years. She didn't need - or want - my help.
I thought I would cry right then and there.
It was hard enough when she graduated preschool in May. She just looked like such a big kid on that stage.
Now, we're heading off to big kid school.
To make matters worse, she proclaimed this week that she didn't need to sleep with Bunny anymore.
Those of you who know her well know what a big deal that is. For those of you who don't, let me clue you in.
Chris' parents gave Bunny to Lily Baker when she was a baby. Every night since, for 5 and a half years, she has slept with Bunny. Every. single. night. Bunny has gone everywhere with us - hockey games, church, preschool, even a Wiggles concert.
And that's not all. Bunny was LB's security. If LB got scared, she wanted Bunny. If LB got sleepy, she wanted Bunny. At first, Gammy and Gramps gave Lily Baker two Bunnies, so we always had a backup. We lost one a year ago and, since then, I've lived in panic that we might lose our only one. Bunny was Lily Baker's best friend.
In fact, I've always joked that Lily Baker would walk down the aisle at her wedding with Bunny stuffed underneath her bouquet.
So to tell me this week that she no longer needed Bunny?
Well, that was more than this mommy could take.
Here's the deal. We all want our children to progress and move to the next stage. That's the point, right?
But when it's the baby, it's just so....final.
It's the true ending of a chapter. It means you are moving from a phase of life and you can never go back.
I remember Ann Catherine's first day of kindergarten. I cried, but not for the same reasons that most moms cried. Yes, I was sad about my little girl growing up, but I was also filled with grief that Melissa wasn't there to start kindergarten with her. Each milestone of Ann Catherine's life is filled with a little bit of sadness for us because it's a reminder that Melissa isn't here.
I remember when I left school that day, I couldn't get to my parents' house quick enough to get Lily Baker. I scooped her up and hugged her as soon as I walked in the house. She was my saving grace that day. Ann Catherine had moved on to kindergarten, but I was okay because Lily Baker was still at home with me.
Tomorrow, I'll leave them both at school.
But, as He always does, God speaks truth into my life during these moments. At church this morning, we sang, "Mighty to Save" which is one of the songs that has always spoken to me since Melissa died. And I began to think of her as we sang.
And I realized what a gift it is to have a child starting kindergarten. I mean, she's growing up. And as hard as that is, do you know what a gift that is?
Do you know how many parents would give anything for that gift?
I do, because I'm one of them. I would give everything I own to walk two little girls into a second grade classroom tomorrow, instead of just one. I would give everything to be stressed that my twin girls are starting second grade tomorrow.
Growing up is a treasure.
That doesn't mean it isn't hard for mommies and daddies. It doesn't mean I won't cry tomorrow when I leave Lily Baker in her kindergarten classroom, because I will. And I will probably cry the whole way home.
At the same time, I will thank God for this precious gift of time. I will thank Him for allowing me to raise these beautiful girls on this earth. I will thank him for this milestone of watching them move to kindergarten and second grade. I will thank Him that they are growing up. There are so many moms who would give anything to have those gifts.
And I'll try and put it in perspective. It could be worse. Instead of starting kindergarten, my baby could be leaving for college tomorrow.
Because when that happens, I really will need a therapist.