A letter to my daughter as she begins Kindergarten

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Hayleigh Grace,

At the end of May we went to the store and bought popsicles and a pool and something else summery that begins with a “p”, for alliteration’s sake. We were full of big plans and a bucket- list. The calendar was covered in dry-erase marker- scribbles of good intentions. I knew what September would bring but it seemed far enough away that nothing could cloud over the sun of summer.

In the middle of February we drove to the hospital. As we drove up the highway, the headlights twisted and blurred together into a surreal kaleidoscope. This was happening. Was this happening? I was going to be a Mom. I clutched my stomach and Daddy’s hand. The blur followed me into triage and into the delivery room. There you were. I laughed and cried simultaneously, spontaneously, the first time I saw you. Motherhood was handed to me, wrapped in a hospital blanket. In the hospital blanket, in that knit cap, all wrapped up in those cheeks and those pursed lips and raised, clenched fist, was Motherhood and all that came with it. Nothing could have prepared me for how much I would be changed by it. There amidst the blur, I felt the empty space in my heart fill up. I didn’t know what exactly was happening, and certainly not exactly what would come next, or how much I would grow to passionately, heart-achingly love you. I only knew a fraction of what it felt like, but I knew I felt different. I knew this was what I was meant for. I also knew that off on the horizon, way off in the distance, some 5 years or so later, that this September was coming. But it seemed far enough away that nothing could cloud over the warmth I felt growing in my heart, nestled in my arms.

The blur still follows me and swallows me up at times. The September that for so long has seemed so far off, is fast approaching. In just over 2 weeks you begin Kindergarten. Although I am truly excited for you, I ache with the knowledge of the change that is coming. It is not just that you are growing up. It is mostly because I am just going to plain old miss you, so much. Because the truth is, the older you get, the more I see of the amazing person God has given me to raise, the more I just plain old  like you. I enjoy being with you. You are sweet, and funny, and creative, and sensitive, and caring, and smart, and so fun to be with. I know that while you are off sharing those qualities with your new teacher and classmates that we are going to feel a void here at home during the day. And that makes me sad.

I know there will be times, while you are just up the road laughing and learning and painting and playing, that I will want so desperately to wrap my arms around you and feel you dive into me for an arms-around-the-neck-Hayleigh-hug. I will be a little bit jealous of the people at your round table who get to hear you giggle, with your face all scrunched, your shoulders all hunched and your hand just slightly in front of your mouth. Part of me wants to scream at them to appreciate you. The other part of me knows that is not really what matters.

But as much as my heart aches at the thought of dropping you off at Kindergarten and turning around to walk out the door, my heart is full of joy at the person you are and the light you will bring to that school. I know that it will be a better place because you are there. I know the teacher God picked for you is the right one to help mold you into the person he desires you to be. I know there will be tough times, for both of us. But I also know that you are ready. You are ready to be generous with the people around you: sharing love, sharing fun, sharing your big ideas, sharing kindness and “honey words”. Really, I could take a cue from you. I want to hoard you here at home with me, but in reality you were never mine to keep. You are mine to love, to raise, and to let go in little pieces so that just as God shared this bit of light with me back in the middle of February 2009, I will share you with the world.

There is verse painted in purple with love by a dear friend before you were even born. It flutters across the bottom of a mirror that bears your name and the butterflies that covered your nursery then. It says “Children are a gift from God. They are a reward from Him”. As my belly stretched with you, and my mind stretched at the idea of raising a child, this verse was a source of comfort and purpose for me. It is from Psalm 127, which also contains some more of my favorite verses about parenting.

“Children are a gift from the Lord;
they are a reward from him.
 Children born to a young man
are like arrows in a warrior’s hands.
 How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them!
He will not be put to shame when he confronts his accusers at the city gates.”
Psalm 127:3-6 (NLT)
You were the first arrow in our quiver. You will always be my first baby, the one who made me a Mommy. The thing about arrows though, just ask your arrow-shooting, sword-wielding brother, is that they are meant to be shot. They aren’t meant to be hoarded in a quiver. In the quiver they aren’t serving their purpose, reaching their full potential. What good is an arrow to a warrior unless he shoots it?
I think of the art of shooting an arrow. The warrior takes aim. He sets his sights on where he wants the arrow to land. He points the arrow precisely in that direction. He pulls his arm back. The weight of the bow is heavy. It takes strength and skill to launch the arrow. But when he does, the arrow soars. It flies with purpose, guided by the aim of the warrior’s bow. The arrow is the joy and pride of the warrior. It keeps him from shame and defeat.
I think it is interesting, Hayleigh-Girl, that God doesn’t refer to you (my child) as a precious vase or a beautiful tapestry to be kept on a shelf or hung on a wall- on display for all to see. You aren’t a jewel to be kept under lock and key. In this passage, God calls you an arrow. And as anyone knows, arrows are meant to be shot-with precision and skill, but shot none-the-less. It is funny really, that verse which has been hanging on your wall from before your arrival, is bringing me comfort as I approach that day which I have known from the beginning was looming there on the horizon. Just as I carried the knowledge of this day with me since I first held you in my arms, so too that passage has been carried along with me this entire time. Arrows are meant to be shot. So, that is just what I will do. Reluctantly, but with great joy, I will take aim. I will pull back the bow and let it go. I will send you soaring, my little arrow, with grace and purpose, out into the world of school.
I love you more than words can say. I pray that my actions can convey to you the depth of my love for you. And when they do not, may the grace of God cover over it. May you turn to your perfect Heavenly Father who will never fail you, and may you find your identity, your sustenance and your Truth in Him. And I pray that God, the Father we share, would guide us both. May His hands steady mine as I hold the bow and take aim. May it be with His strength that I pull it back and let it go. And may it be to His great glory and joy that he watches us both-his arrows, soar for Him.
Love Always,

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