It was my first back-to-school morning as a parent. You'd think I'd be doing the happy dance all the way to the car and heading straight to Target to celebrate. Instead I was speed walking with my head down.
The best parenting advice comes from my friend whose kids are about a year older than mine. She is close enough to the struggles I'm facing to remember clearly, but far enough away to have gained some clarity.
Hold tight to your tenacity when people might not see your strengths. You know what you are capable of and do not need permission to sparkle. Just do your best, yet know that your best looks different every day.
As you take one last look over your shoulder to make sure that your little one is safely tucked into her classroom, and you wipe away the tears as you climb back into your (suddenly very quiet) car, remember this.
As excited as I am for her, I'm nervous too. My daughter's funny, imaginative and most of all, open to everyone she meets. The real world has a way of stifling these traits -- of hardening even the tenderest of little hearts.
"I missed you today," I said. I know plenty of parenting books advise against saying this very thing to our kids; we're not supposed to make them feel guilty that we spent the day missing them. But it came out. It was the truth.
When you are a new-to-elementary-school parent, you aren't quite sure what to expect. There is this strange pull somewhere inside you to make sure the teacher knows what an unusually smart and adorable child you are entrusting her with. Even if you didn't think you were that kind of parent.