"sadness punches to the gut unaware"

Today is Lydia's first day of kindergarten. (You met her here like this:)

Yesterday was only an hour-long orientation during which I accompanied her, but today she will stand at the end of the driveway and get on the bus and go to school. There will likely be tears, but hopefully I am the only one shedding them.

Being the oldest, I was never the one "left behind" when older siblings left for school, went to college, or moved out. I have no idea how to anticipate this change except to recognize that things change. There is joy and sorrow in change as with every new season another season ends. There is loss in newness; sometimes that loss hurts. As I figure out this new normal of morning routine and midday pickup, I pray I will be tender and gentle with Lydia along with the three other little people adapting to this change as well.

My friend, Kimberly, said it like this last month:
At first it was one, then two, and now three children in the car, riding to school, waving good-bye to me - no one left at my side to feed and care for. It's bittersweet. I feel like Rapunzel in Tangled: I've set my feet on the grass for the first time. I'm relishing every inch of it, then the sadness punches me in the gut unaware. I recover and am delighting in the refreshment of my soul. And then the worry hits around lunchtime - "Will she be able to open her butterfly sandwich holder?"
I anticipate that those "sadness punches to the gut unaware" never go away. They just change over time. Glennon of Momastery says it like this:
Someone needs to create a word that describes what happens inside of a mama's heart as she's watching her child walk into a school building. We need a word for the feeling that overtakes her after she says goodbye to her infant who is now masquerading as a young MAN and who is walking away from her into his adolescent life. A word to describe the phenomena that is a mother sitting helplessly in her empty van while her heart silent screams her daily PLEASEPLEASEPLEASES!!! PLEASE be good to him. Please see his strengths and overlook his weaknesses. Please sit by him at lunch. Please smile back when he smiles. Please want to be his partner. Please be gentle. Pleasepleaseplease. PLEASE.
. . .
Whatever that feeling is - it's a lot like looking at the sun. It's simply too bright to stand for longer than a moment.
Is it love? Is the word love? Damn. Love wins but love hurts.
I'm really so excited for Lydia as she meets this milestone of kindergarten. In writing about it here, I wanted to acknowledge all of these extreme emotions to remember them. I am thankful for the reminder years ago to be present and not "can't wait" away my everyday. I look at these past five and a half years that I've spent at home with Lydia, and I can't quite wrap my head around that season ending and this next one beginning. I am so excited for Lydia starting school and how the rest of us will embrace this new normal. We will miss her being around in the mornings, but we look forward to new friendships and relationships and challenges and adventures and opportunities birthed in this new season.

But, really, how did we get from here

to here