Two years ago Mary Katherine Backstrom walked up to the door of her son's new preschool hand-in-hand with her "sweet nugget," who was shuffling his feet and gripping her finger "like a vice" as big tears streamed down his red cheeks. He lifted his arms to his mama and said, "Mommy, come with me? Mommy, no leave?" which completely wrecked Mary Katherine, who turned her back on her son to walk to her car.
"I wish you were old enough to understand why, but at 2 years old, you aren't," the mom wrote in a post to her blog's Facebook page, Mom Babble. Back in her car, Mary Katherine considered the fact that her son had likely stopped crying and had already made some new friends, but still, she decided to pen a letter to her boy for when he's older — when he can "finally understand" — sharing the things she wants him to know about the drop-offs to the preschool she and his dad "agonized" over sending him to.
By the time you are able to read this, these preschool drop-offs will be a distant memory. Truth be told, you probably won't remember them at all. You won't remember the screaming or the tears or the way your teacher calmly held you as I hurried my way back to the car (in case I lost courage and ripped you away from their arms). You won't remember all the panic on my face or the redness in your cheeks. You won't remember, but I promise I will. . . .
You won't know how guilty I felt at home, cleaning the carpet for the third time. How the dishes were done, the bed was made, and how I was certain that by 10 a.m., your confidence in me was officially crushed. While you were wondering where Mommy was, I was on the phone with Ms. Joann, getting an update on how you played with that brown plastic donut and laughed when the teacher blew bubbles during circle time. By now, you couldn't possibly remember these details. But sweet boy, know that I will.
Maybe you'll be 7 years old when you read this, rolling your eyes because this letter only proves how ridiculous Mom truly is. Maybe you'll be a teenager, embarrassed by this emotional trainwreck of a confession. Or maybe, I like to imagine, you'll be packing up a safe four-door sedan with blue jeans and polo shirts. There will be a college bumper sticker on the back, a tank full of gas, and you will smile at me reassuringly as I grip your hand like a vice. And maybe as you pull out of the driveway, you'll find this letter folded neatly in the passenger seat.
There will come a day when Mommy is the one at drop-off. Perhaps I'll put on a brave face. Or there will be big tears streaming down red cheeks. Either way, it will be your turn to hurry back to your car and leave me sniffling in the rearview. And when that moment comes, you'll be looking ahead to some new adventure — not looking back.
Mary Katherine continues, assuring her son that he won't remember the tiny socks and Mickey shirt he wore or that his mom woke up early on his first day to make muffins with him. "You won't remember that I dropped you off at this quaint preschool, and sat in the car to write you this letter (while sobbing like an idiot)," she wrote. "You won't know all of the pride and love and joy and sadness that simultaneously consumes a parent's heart when they see their child take a step, or leap, toward independence. You won't know how that feels. But I will."