There is a bit of comedic irony in that as I am grieving the inevitable milestones that have now become our Septembers, I am reminiscing about entering preschool myself many moons ago. I was that kid who chose to stand in a corner for an entire day instead of going to school. One of the many early indicators that I had a mind of my own and it was a strong-willed one. I remember our very first day of preschool. I say “our” because it really felt as if I was going through the transition like he was. I woke up anxious and couldn’t crawl out of the skin I was in. It wasn’t just that I was nervous. It felt like a loss. I questioned if I had prepared him enough. Did I make the most of out every moment? What if he is too attached and doesn’t go in? I was convinced that his attachment to me was stronger than his will for independence.
Not only did he go into his classroom, but he went in with confidence and ease. I, on the other hand, felt the anxiety ooze out of my bleeding cuticles. Two hours couldn’t go by fast enough. I was certain that when I went to pick up my first-born, that he would be anxiously waiting for me with outstretched arms and even a cry for “Mommy,” should I be so lucky.
He didn’t. I was that mom with the three year old who got upset when she came to pick him up at the door. Perhaps you don’t understand. He was the only child that would actually blurt “No, mommy, go.” I was crushed. How could this be? I thought we were so attached. This must mean he doesn’t want to be at home with me. This must mean that he sees what I’ve known about myself all along. I’m not good enough. Even my four-year old thinks I’m a failure.
I had some redeeming moments to help lift my ego off of the floor between then and now, but one thing still remains to be true. Every September I feel that uneasy stir in the pit of my stomach and I can’t control the sadness I feel. When we decided to have two children less than two years apart, I didn’t quite think about what that would really mean. Oh, and by the way, I didn’t even consider the fact that we would have two children (and then three) in high school all at once. I never was a logical thinker.
Now, my second child was beginning preschool. This meant they were going in together, but I felt left behind. This is going too fast and I begin to recount every complaint, mistake, failure and misjudgment I have made that stole moments I wasn’t truly present for. I begin to think about the two children that give me the purpose to get up when I could have easily stayed down. There she was, like he was. She was ready. I had to bring both of them in that morning. One after the other. When I dropped her off, I looked at her. I made sure I was present. I wanted to focus on her face.
She walked in with confidence and ease, just like her brother did. It dawned on me that their confidence in uncertainty was better equipped than mine. Unlike their mother, they embraced the change with excitement and fearlessness. How could these two be mine?
When I picked them both up, they couldn’t wait to tell me about their day but most importantly that they saw one another in the hall. Hall? I flash-forward to a blink from now when they’re socializing in the hall as the bell rings (if they’re like me) and keeping secrets that they carry home with them. After I put them down for their nap, I cried. I didn’t want them to mistake my tears for sadness. I was relieved.
Even if they felt anxious, it didn’t seem to paralyze them. They had a confidence I don’t recall having or feeling. Not even now. They felt safe. Or, as Autumn put it she knew “I would come back.” I prayed that with all of the mistakes I am bound to make as their mother, that they know I’ll be there. I will be there because they’re my invitation to show up. September will continue to come around, but there is no RSVP date.
That day ended with a prayer and promise. A promise that I won’t allow my sadness and grief rob me from showing up and a prayer that God slow things down a bit. In my mind, it still feels like they’re going from preschool to college.
In love & truth,