A few of my friends laughed at me and gave me a hard time for being so "dramatic" (they know me so well), but I really struggled. I couldn't even tie her shoes that morning without breaking down and sobbing. The thought of my tiny 5 year old being gone for soooo long every day (she's in school from 9a - 3:45) made me sick to my stomach. I also started panicking thinking that I wasted her early years. I worked so hard, even though it was from home, that maybe I didn't get to enjoy her as much as I should have. The thought that I wouldn't have full days of playing and giggling and snuggling in our pajamas anymore made me break into tears. All those conference calls, and work memos, and policies and procedures I wrote and time I spent working was time away from my baby. And now she's going to kindergarten and I won't get that time back. It was a roller-coaster of emotion for me. I realize now that I didn't waste any time. I enjoyed her every day. All day. I had to work, so I was blessed beyond words to work from home and experience her on a daily basis...even if it was with a headset on my head and a blackberry stuck to my fingers. It was time for her to start kindergarten whether or not I was ready.
The night before school starts we had our annual "Back To School Dinner & Blessing." Jayda requested her favorite, Chipotle. We feasted at home, talked about the exciting day and year to follow, and ended the evening with a gift and a blessing.
Every year, prior to school starting (this is the 4th year now since Jayda had 3 years of preschool), Russ gives her a Fathers Blessing. This is where he gently and sweetly places his hands on her tiny head and prays for her. He speaks directly to our Lord on her behalf and offers words of thanks, strength, and encouragement. He asks for the Lord to be with our daughter each day as she leaves our home and goes to kindergarten. This year, he specifically asked that Jayda remember each day, and though each experience, how much she is loved by her mom, her dad, her sister, her extended family, and most importantly - the Lord. He prayed that she remain sweet in spirit and strong in mind. He prayed that she would always talk to her mom and dad and tell us what she was feeling and experiencing and he asked that the Lord help her make good decisions. Most importantly, he prayed that he, as her daddy, would know how to be the best father he could be to teach, care for, and guide his sweet Jayda Grace.
After the blessing, Jayda opened a few gifts. Russ and I gave her a locket that she could wear to school. It had a picture of us one one side and a picture of her sissy on the other. We've always loved the book "The Kissing Hand" and wanted to give her something special that she could always keep with her to remind her that we were thinking of her all day. She wore the locket her first day, and then we put in her backpack to keep with her always. Lilly gave Jayda a cute little bracelet and a big sloppy kiss.
We walked her to school the next day and left her with her new teachers, Mrs. Ito and Mrs. L. They made us say goodbye to the students at the door and wouldn't let us walk inside to get her settled in. I kind of wanted to drop kick the teachers right then, but Russ calmly grabbed my hand and pulled me away. And although I climbed a light pole out front of the school to look inside her classroom, Russ was able to help get me home in one piece, albeit with a flood of tears.
Jayda said her first day was great. She had a nice time and enjoyed meeting the students. She thought her teachers seemed nice and said she "felt like a teenager" when she got to walk to the office to drop something off all by herself. All in all, she did great!