Within the span of a year you discovered both the joys and the pains of being a big brother to an independent and fearless baby sister. You navigated the struggle of sharing and developed the art of patience at not always getting things your way. You also learned to cope with anxiety and doubt as you walked bravely into your classroom filled with new children and a new teacher. You found your friends, you expanded your confidence, and you found your voice. Last year was a milestone that paved the way for the path ahead.
This year, right around the same time, we are once again packing up our belongings and preparing to resettle. This time we are moving our family into a new neighborhood and into our very own home. All the while we are also preparing to begin your year of First Grade at a new elementary, once again filled with new children and a new teacher. I can tell you are unsure of how this will all play out for you. I can tell that you are nervous, and that you miss your old friends, and especially your old teacher. I know this change is calling out your natural tendency for worry and fear. As your mama I can sense that you are uneasy. I wish I could ease that anxiety for you, my son. I too struggle with it even now as an adult and if there was a way to remove that element from your life story, I would. But I can't. So all I'm left with is the things I've learned along the way. I'm not sure I can offer you wisdom, but I do have my story and all that I've collected and I want to give you everything I can to help ease the struggle. And yet ---
Even as I type that, I can sense that it's something I need to let go of. Because it is not my job to ease your struggle. Who is to say that your struggle isn't in fact good and important and necessary? As your mom of course I want to do everything I can to remove pain and ache from your path - but wisdom whispers to my heart that that is not my job. My job is to love you. To love you purely and selflessly and wholly and unconditionally. I get the honor and the privilege of loving you - you bright and wondrous spirit, you. My boy - you are full of light. You are tender and unsure of yourself until the moment comes when the room needs your voice. Over this past year I have seen you come into yourself more than ever - I watched you love and give and raise a holy ruckus over the stories of your friends in Ghana. I watched your heart for our local church grow and deepen. I saw an appreciation for your faith heritage expand into your awareness like never before. So much of my parenting you is simply letting my love for you flow and just getting out of the way so that you can fill up the space you were meant to fill up. It is a beautiful thing to watch.
I know you are uneasy about beginning again at a new school. I know you will feel nervous as you walk up to that new playground, spilling over with kids who have lived and played together for years. I know how it will feel to be unknown, unneeded, and different. I pray every single moment I can for one, Lord I'm not greedy just give us one, one true good friend who truly "gets" you. One kid who takes the time to really see you, who speaks your quirky imaginative spirit language and who can befriend you and make this year one of joy and laughter and inside jokes. And I pray for your teacher, that he or she is kind and patient and also able to really see you for you. You want so desperately to please and you are so hard on yourself when you don't do it perfectly the first time. And so I also pray for grace.
Sweet boy, I pray you learn to give yourself grace even now, at age six, because oh my what a gift that will be to your growing and future self. Learn to love your glorious holy messy brilliant self now and save yourself the heartache of figuring it out later in life. Grace and love. Grace and love. It is the mantra of our hearts for you, my boy. Because you are not the one we worry about when it comes to making good choices. You are our rule-follower. You want to do it right. And - you are the one we want to color outside the lines, to get a little messy, to learn to embrace the failures that will come and the lessons they provide.
And so, first grade is at hand. It will be full of your greatest challenges: there are fears to be faced, mountains to be climbed, stories to be discovered, and (with grace and love) new friendships to be forged. May God be with you, young Skywalker. Daddy and I know you have what it takes.