Try Not to Cry, Mama: Preschool Graduation

My kids are four years old and they are already onto me.  Whenever there is a sappy commercial or they do something particularly sweet, they know if they look into my eyes they will find them already wet with hot tears. They can see it from across the room now and they get a little dimpled smile on their faces and say, “Try not to cry, mama”.

Listen kids.  You are in this for the long haul with your mama and if there is one thing I can promise you, it’s that you will see A LOT of tears.

You graduate from your first year of preschool this week and guess what? I have been practicing my crying for weeks now.  That’s right.  Buckets of tears.  BUCKETS.  I know, I know, you have one more year of preschool and then onto Kindergarten and then onto all the others, but it’s going so fast already and well, BUCKETS.  Extra hydration is required BUCKETS.

Try not to cry, mama.

I started out the school year with this – Giant backpacks on little bodies – Preschool begins – beginning with “ALL I DO IS CRY”.

I tell them that crying is a good thing.  It means someone is feeling their feelings, and we should always be able to do that.  Crying doesn’t always mean someone is sad, and even if it does mean that, it’s still a good thing to be able to cry.

All I do is cry.  And I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world. There was a long long time where I couldn’t cry.  I couldn’t laugh.  I couldn’t feel anything, really, and so now that I can I really can and I do so liberally and out loud.

This world is terrible and people are horrible to each other and there is too much to cry about so on a day when joy abounds, we need to feel that. That gratitude abounding.

I know that there are many more graduations and milestones ahead (if we are so fortunate), but this feels so big right now.  They’ve learned SO MUCH this year.  How to write their names and count and sing songs and play group games and take turns and wait in line and sign the alphabet. But most importantly, they’ve learned how to get along with other kids. I am so proud of these kids and all they’ve learned. They feel their feelings and they help others feel theirs too.  When they get mad they get mad and when they love they love hard. There are skirmishes, but they learn to work it out.

Preschool is a microcosm of our society and they are learning how to exist in the world amongst each other.  To be a citizen of the planet.  They won’t all be best friends and they won’t always get along, but they can figure out how to exist together.  This is HUGE.

I will be forever grateful for this school with this fantastic teacher and these open and honest parents we’ve spent this last year with.  We will never get another first year of school and this one was a damn good one.  We’ve all experienced this together and it will never be able to be duplicated or recreated simply because of this exact group of kids and parents and our teacher and where we all were exactly in this moment.


This view heading to school is my favorite.  Roots and wings.

Try not to cry, mama.

These kids are the hope. These kids are the why. These kids are the change and the way we continue to rise up.  But we as parents and caregivers need to remain ever vigilant.

In the midst of all the horrors of this world, they are learning to love and respect and treat people with dignity.  They can stand up for themselves and they are feeling empowered to stand up for others.  We tell them if someone is not being nice, they can say, “THAT IS NOT NICE” and choose to walk away.  If someone else being mistreated, they know they need to say something or tell a grown up. Just because there are people in positions of power bullying by saying and doing inappropriate and cruel things, that doesn’t give license to these kids to do the same.  My kids have the OK from us to speak out against that kind of bullshit.  I don’t care who they are talking to.  We have just as much right to get loud as anybody else if need be. We are all responsible for each other.

What a beautiful thing it is to be able to feel all these feelings and express them appropriately.  What a beautiful thing it is to be present and alert and here for all this.  What a beautiful thing.  How lucky we are to be alive right now.

Try not to cry, mama.

We’ve been told that everything for graduation is a surprise, and while we have heard a few things slip here and there (somebody wants to be Boba Fett when he grows up and a certain song from Trolls has been practiced all year long), we really don’t know what the ceremony they’ve been working so hard on will entail tomorrow.  My kids have both told me separately, “YOU ARE GOING TO CRY, MAMA” and I most certainly believe them. All I know is that when they look out and their little faces find ours, they will see us waving signs with their pictures and words of pride and love reflected back at them.  They will see our eyes and in our eyes reflections of them.  And tears.  All the tears.


3 things I tell my kids each day before preschool that I’m trying my best to live


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