This week my social media feed filled up with little boys and girls climbing onto big school buses for the first time.
The same little boys and girls I held days after they were born five years ago.
The same little boys and girls I once perched on top of my newly pregnant belly while imagining this tiny life inside of me joining them on the outside.
I looked at the photos of their sweet, excited faces with pride and bewilderment wondering where the time had gone. I thought about how they felt on those big buses and in their new classrooms. Did they make some new friends today? Find the hooks for their backpacks? Start to make their own way in the world?
Then my mind and heart went to the faces behind the cameras. The ones who bought the backpacks, packed the lunches, and waved goodbye. My dear friends, their moms.
The moms who have gone first.
They are the women who years ago went first to the hospital and told me what I should pack in my bag. Who told me the truth about the giant after labor ice packs. Who made me feel normal as my hormones made me feel anything but in those early days of motherhood.
They are the moms who taught me about breast pumps and cradle cap. Since they went first, they showed up at my door with boxes of hand me down onesies and told me not to bother buying baby shoes. They spoon fed babies first, and toddler proofed first, and potty trained first.
It has been these moms, the moms who have gone first, who showed me when to hold on tight to my kids. Like when my toddlers weren’t quite ready to tackle the balance beam on their own. And when big emotions took over little bodies. And when we were feeling off center ourselves and needed our babies perhaps even more than they needed us.
As each day passes I realize more and more how hard it must be for the moms who go first.
At each step these moms I love have learned as they went without the comfort of close friends nearby paving the way. They mothered while the rest of us didn’t understand yet, and then they ever so graciously paid their wisdom forward.
I can picture them all right now, looking at first day of school pictures and feeling a little teary. I can picture them texting me a year from now to see how I’m holding up when it’s my turn to wave goodbye to the bus. And if I squint I can see them going first as our little kids become big kids who lose their first teeth, go to their first dances, and drive their first cars.
Then someday these moms, my dear friends. will go first as the babies we rocked pack up their rooms and move away. None of us will be ready for that moment, but because their babies came first, they will also leave first. And just like these moms have taught me how to hold on tight, they will also teach me how to let go.
I am so thankful for you, the moms who have gone first. Someone has to do it and I understand now why it was you.
You, my sweet friends, were meant to lead the way.