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Well, we did it! We made it through the first day of school, again, and this time with two little ones trotting off into the unknown of a new classroom, new teachers and new friends, it was a huge success.

It actually almost feels strange to say it, “I’m a mother of a first grader and a preschooler.” I’m sure any you other mamas out there can understand. The life of mamahood was something I dreamed of, with thoughts of baby-bouncing and stroller-pushing.  And now, it almost seems like I’m living in a dream because I still wake up don’t quite know how I arrived at being a mother of three… a carpooling, lunch packing, mother of a first-grader and preschooler.
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Aliyah was first, with a year of kindergarten under her belt, she was the resident expert on school, filling little brother in on all the fun little perks of the classroom… and so we walked to her drop off point and gave the usual extra long first day hug, kissed her goodbye and watched her trot her merry way forward, with only the slightest hesitation in her step and she turned to say goodbye once more, and then she was gone. Off in a sea of little people filing into the bright and colorfully decorated classrooms full of excitement, jitters and that teetering mix of little-kid-learning-toy-area and big-kid-legit-classroom. If you’ve spaced the gap between kindergarten and first grade with your child, you know exactly what I mean.
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I inhaled deeply knowing that I’ve raised her well enough to face a few hours of the day without me and strong enough to know I’ll always be there when she needs me, and turned to follow up with a new decision we’ve made this year…
First Day of School 2013-1

(Teacher gift this year was easy: Cute apple bag from the Target dollar bin last year that I saved for this, an EOS lip balm the kids each picked out for their teacher and a Starbucks gift-card… coffee goes a long way for those early risers. Check out last years teacher gift here.)

We decided to enroll Brayden in a preschool class this year, and gratefully, there was one last spot available for me to slide him right in… in the same school as his big sis. He’s been excited all summer for it, and proudly walked through the hall with the backpack he so happily chose strapped to his puffed up shoulders, carrying his lunchbox and gift for the teacher with ease. That is until his classroom door opened up and a very energetic voice exclaimed, “Who’s ready to come in and play all day?!” For some reason, little man didn’t feel like playing all day, because he immediately began crying. His sweaty palm reached up toward mine and every ounce of his babyhood wrapped around my finger as four little fingers clenched tightly around mine. My heart sank further at each rapid beat of his, but forward we marched, together, into the uncharted territory of his class of three year olds. I tried to bury every bit of uncertainty deep within so that all he could feel was excitement and acceptance, yet little did I realize that this wasn’t about me at all. It was about him, and his way. Much like the first day of karate when I cheered him from the closest seat I could find, only to watch him stand there, unmoving and unwavering, as a room full of class mates kicked and hi-ya’d there way through the hour long lesson. My first reaction was to scoop him up and run, ushering him safely away, but I didn’t. I thought that maybe he didn’t like it, but that wasn’t the case. His way is to take it all in, to breathe a little slower, to let his roots take a firm hold and soak up the atmosphere, the people, the surroundings. When I get my own self out of the way of this little bloomer, he blossoms something beautiful.

That first karate lesson? By halfway through, he was the loudest hi-ya’er in the room eliciting smiles and applause from the sidelines. And this first day of school? Within five minutes he was giving us hugs and kisses goodbye and turning around to charm anyone who’d listen.
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Getting back into the car, I let a waiting tear well up and trickle it’s way down my cheek.

They spread their wings just a little bit further today. They’re growing, and so am I. It was a first day, it was a big day.