The Day You Drop Mommy Off, Please Remember…

written by Mary Katherine Backstrom

“Mommy come with me? Mommy no leave?”

I put on your tiny shoes and your hand reached up to hold mine. We pulled your blue doggy backpack over your shoulders, and I smiled reassuringly…but my heart frowned. In the parking lot of your new preschool, there were already tears in your eyes. Your feet shuffled toward your classroom and you gripped my finger like a vice. Your lips were turned down.

If this is a good thing, why does it feel so hard?

At drop-off you reached your arms out and cried my name. Big ole tears streamed down red cheeks. I gave you a kiss and walked back to my car, literally turning my back on your cries. The whole thing wrecked me. I wish you were old enough to understand why–but at two years old, you aren’t. You’ve already gone back inside with your friends. You’ve probably stopped crying. Well, I’m just getting started. While these feelings are fresh and achey in my heart, I am sitting in the car, writing you a letter. Because when you get older–when you can finally understand–there is something I want you to know about preschool drop off:

My sweet boy,

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 Daddy and I agonized over which little school would enrich you, protect you, and encourage you to grow. How it took us six months in our new town to finally gain the courage to sign up. How after visiting twelve schools—twelve!—we settled at the quaint Jewish temple with colorful paper on every wall. The teachers were all so kind and had been there for years. We wanted you to trust these adults. To make new friends and play in confidence without Mommy hovering nearby. You’ll never remember how we fretted over this decision, losing sleep and tears. You couldn’t possibly remember, but your parents certainly 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. Joanna. 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 seven 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 train wreck 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 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.

You won’t be remembering the lunch boxes, the tiny socks, or your 2T Mickey Mouse t-shirt. That I woke up an hour early today so we could make wildberry muffins before preschool. You won’t remember that I dropped you off at this quaint Jewish preschool with colorful paper on the walls, and sat in the car to write you this letter (while sobbing like an idiot). 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.



About The Author


Mary Katherine is a southerner, born and raised. Growing up in Alabama, she developed an affinity for lightning bugs, sweet tea, playing guitar, and having strong opinions. She's happily married with a son (Nugget) and two fur babies. Fun facts: MK is a living kidney donor, speaks a little Thai, and has written two novels.


  1. My “nugget” is a senior in high school this year. Every first day of school we’ve done the obligatory first day pic. Then I drop him off or, for the last two years, he’s driven himself. I’ve held my composure until my commute to work. Then I cry off all my makeup because I remember him being a little 1st grader saying on the 3rd day “It’s ok, Mama. I can walk in by myself.” Ughhhhhh! And now, as we visit colleges I still see the little 6 year old that can make it “by himself.” He towers over me now but no matter the size or the age, he’s still my baby. So, you sit in the preschool parking lot and have your mama moment. We’ve all been there. <3 There's no better job than being a mama.

  2. Next time…please post a disclaimer “Post may cause tears”. My “baby” is in his senior year of high school. Still cry when I think of the new adventures he is going on…

  3. Oh my gosh this made me cry so hard. Beautiful though. I will be just as big a mess whenever we decide to move forward with preschool for my daughter. She’s about to turn 2, I wasn’t even thinking of doing this until she’s 3, but I also worry she’s not socializing and learning to be OK with being cared for by other adults. I work, my Mom watches her 3 days a week, me 1 (work from home) and my husband 1 (on his day off). But she’s shy and sometimes awkward in social settings, especially with strangers. I worry. But I know she’s not ready, I’m not ready, lots of not ready’s. Parenting is so emotionally exhausting.

    1. You’ll know when she’s ready. It was more of a head vs heart thing for me at this point. Ben was mature enough and loved the activities, but I didn’t want to drop him off. Take your time mama. Nobody is gonna make you do it! It’s okay to wait ❤️

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