My Baby is a Senior in High School?

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My oldest daughter’s first day of kindergarten seems as if it was only yesterday. 

I remember how I shopped for days until I found a precious blue and white stripped dress with little sailboats and anchors smocked across the collar that was perfect for my sweet little Loughlin to wear on the first day of school.  

We went to the Buster Brown shoe store to find her a pair of red sandals to wear with her dress and then headed to the fabric store where I found a matching ribbon to tie in her golden hair.

The night before her first day at the “big school,” I made a special dinner and we sat at the dinner table and talked about all of the fun things she would get to do in kindergarten.  After her bath as I was combing her hair so it would be smooth and shiny when she met her new teacher and friends, I thought about how hard it was going to be to let my baby girl head off to kindergarten. 

What if she got lost trying to find her class?  What if she got lost in the lunchroom or couldn’t get her juice box opened during snack time?  I was so worried that she wouldn’t know what to do when she got into cafeteria line that I packed her lunch every day for four months even though she was begging me to let her eat the “yummy food” from the lunch line like her friends. 

I think back and laugh at how I worried so much that she would not be able to open her chips or the fruit cup that I had packed in her lunch box.  I used to take things out of the packaging they came in and put everything in easy to open containers or baggies for her just so I would know she was able to eat. I’m not even going to go into how different it was sending my fifth and sixth ones off to school, I was not nearly as worried about them starving or getting lost. 

My youngest ones’ Back-to-School outfits, while still pretty, are more likely to be a “first day of school hand-me-down” and their shoes won’t be new but they will at least look new thanks to a little Windex and a paper towel being used to shine them up a little.  But that will be a story for another day.  This is Loughlin and the day my first-born child went to school.

The morning of her first day, I went into her room and snuggled with her and gently sang to her one of her favorite songs to wake her up.  There was a special breakfast waiting for her so I could send her off full so if she couldn’t open her lunch box I would know she would survive until I picked her up.  I braided her hair and tied in the ribbons and the put on her new dress that had been hanging up high where no little hands could touch it until the big day. 

As she walked into school on that first day of kindergarten, I remember giving her a hug and a kiss and then watching her walk into her classroom.  She looked so small carrying a backpack that was almost bigger than her.  I felt the tears well up in my eyes as she waved goodbye and I gathered with the other mothers of kindergartners at a special breakfast the school held called the “Boo-Hoo Breakfast”.  Literally, it was a roomful of moms who were tear eyed and crying because their babies were going into kindergarten. 

During that first day, I watched the clock the entire day, following along with the daily activity schedule that her teacher had sent home with each parent at orientation.  I knew when my baby was at story time, lunch, reading and math and I was the first in the car pick-up line when the final bell rang.

She survived her first day of kindergarten and after that year, the tears that I cried on her first day stopped and each year I met the first day of school with the same excitement that she had. 

That was until today.

This morning my sweet baby girl began her senior year in high school.  Instead of a smocked dress that I had picked out, she spent hours last night up in her room with her sister Aidan, who is just a year younger, trying on a million different outfits until she found the perfect dress that her sister approved of.   Apparently I am no longer an expert in fashion and it is terribly uncool to have your mom pick out your outfit when you are a senior. 

As I was laying out outfits for the younger ones to wear for their first day at school, I could hear the girls talking and laughing.  Trying on clothes and shoes and talking about friends and boys.  Even as “unfashionable” as I am, I must have some fashion sense because they went into my closet to find a some shoes to go with it.  She came downstairs to show me and I found myself speechless when I saw her walk in the room.  Where is my little girl and when did time speed up so much?  Loughlin has become such a beautiful young woman both inside and out.   

This morning before my alarm was even close to going off, I heard footsteps and music playing at the ungodly hour of 5:30 am.  She was too excited to sleep and she was up and starting her day without needing me to sing her a song or gently wake her.  Groggily I tried to show my excitement and told her I was going to make cinnamon rolls for breakfast.  “Mom, you know I don’t eat breakfast, “ she said, “I’m made myself some coffee instead.”  Coffee, huh?? That is for grown-ups.  I don’t even drink coffee, how does she know how to make it and do we even have a coffee pot?  My little girl can’t drink coffee!

Then she shut the door to her room so she can listen to her music with her sister and they can do her make-up and hair.  I sat for a minute thinking about how fast the time has gone by.  When she finally emerged from the bathroom an hour later, I was speechless looking at my little girl.  My sweet little kindergartner emerged as a beautiful young woman starting her senior year in high school.  I felt the tears well up in my eyes as she picked up her notebook and purse, which has replaced the backpacks of her childhood, and headed out the door.  I managed to grab a quick picture of Loughlin and her sister Aidan as we walked out of the door just as I have done every year since she started kindergarten. 

My sweet little girls, Aidan (junior year) and Loughlin (senior year), on the first day of school.

As we neared the school entrance I told her I couldn’t believe she was a senior and I asked her if it would be okay when I dropped her off if I gave her a hug and a kiss on the cheek just like I did on her first day of kindergarten.  I figured the answer would be an eye-rolling, “no Mom that would be so embarrassing.”  But I didn’t even have to wait for an answer because as the car came to a stop in front of the school, Loughlin leaned over and gave me a hug and a kiss on the cheek and said, “I love you mom!” 

Then my little girl, who has grown into a beautiful young woman, hopped out of the car and excitedly went into school to start her senior year.  I let the tears fall as I drove away and thought that next year I might advocate the high schools to offer “Boo-Hoo” breakfast for parents of seniors just as the elementary school offered on the first day we dropped our babies off for kindergarten.

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