From Chicken Soup for the Mother of Preschooler's Soul

Growing Up

The alarm caused me to leap from bed. There, beside the door, stood my five-year-old cherub. Her golden curls were caught in a lopsided ponytail and on her feet were socks, one blue and one white. But on her face was a look of utter excitement.

“Hurry up, Mommy. I got to go to school today.”

It was at least two hours before the school bell would ring. But, no matter, this was her first day. My baby was going to be a big girl.

We ate our cereal and laughed at the cartoons on TV. I dressed and then helped her fix her ponytail and change socks; she decided on Mickey Mouse shorts and a matching top.

As we got in the car, she hesitated. “Mommy, will I like it at school? Will they like me?”

“Of course, they’ll like you. You’ll have a wonderful day at school. You just wait and see.”

I wished I could make it all happen just so, but I knew this was a time for letting go. And it was a big letting go. She was my only child and the love of my life. Placing her in the care of people I did not know but had to trust was difficult, and I knew it would be the first of many times. I had enjoyed being at home with her, making sandcastles at the beach, listening to her sing “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” and catching lightning bugs at night.

As we pulled into the schoolyard, I prayed that all those who came in contact with her would believe in her dreams and encourage her, and that she would learn all she could and bless others.

We walked to the front door of the school, hand-in-hand. She slowly released her grip and looked up at me, eyes wide with wonderment.

“Mommy, I’ll see you later. I’ve got to grow up now.” And with that, she was off.

Joy and sadness tugged at my heart as I walked away, recognizing the new page we were turning in our lives.

When I got home, I folded the laundry, certain I could still smell Johnson’s Baby Powder on her clothes. My mind caressed the memories of her babyhood. Time had passed all too quickly.

I smiled as I remembered her words, “I’ve got to grow up now.” And I realized that as I had let go of her hand that morning, I had placed it in His. We were both growing up.

Marsha B. Smith

“I’m struggling with Empty Pouch Syndrome.”

Reprinted by permission of Cartoon Stock Ltd.

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