to my baby boy on his first day of preschool.

Beach-1 Dear Everett,

We made it. We did it. You and I, buddy. We survived 3.5 years at home together, and that was no small feat.

By my calculations that’s something like 8,491 diapers changed and 1,542 goldfish crackers consumed, 981 times I have buckled and unbuckled you out of your carseat, and 3,872 kisses I have planted on your face (approximately). Our days have been filled with stories and toy cars, water tables and playdates. We have laughed and cried and thrown tantrums regularly, and I have loved watching you grow into the sweet, independent boy that you are.

You are getting ready for a new adventure now, one that is completely separate from me. While I can vividly imagine you stuffing your Lightning McQueen backpack into a cubby and sitting on the floor waiting for music time, the truth is: I won’t know exactly where you'll be or exactly what you'll be doing during those hours. You’ll make new friends and learn new things, and my entire knowledge of this experience for you will boil down to what you decide to share with me in the car on the short ride home.

Preschool feels like a bookmark between two chapters, the place where one story begins and one story ends. It’s the very definition of bittersweet.

I want you to know that these last 3.5 years have been the very best for me, Ev. Even in my ugliest, most impatient, most frustrated moments with you, these years have been the very best. It's hard for me to even pinpoint definitive memories, because there are so many, but also because when I think of these years, my mind wanders more to a feeling than a specific time and place. My mind wanders to the feeling of home, and warmth, and joy abundant. That's how I think of you, Ev. Thinking of you is thinking of home. I can barely even remember a time when our home didn't consist of you and your infectious laugh and your cheerios on the carpet and hot wheels neatly lined up on the coffee table.

I hope your first day of preschool is everything you want it to be and more. And I hope you remember that no matter how big you get or how smart you become, you will always be my first baby. I am so proud to be your mom.