Tune in today to see if she can … be that together mom on the first day of kindergarten.
The thing about children that nobody tells you, is that more often than anyone would like, we discover that these little people are petite vessels sent to open, detonate and unintentionally impose utter and complete emotional devastation upon those who love them most. One look, and they can level you. The right phrase, and you’re shattered into 8 trillion tiny pieces. Almost every happy occasion comes gift wrapped in nostalgia and topped with a bittersweet bow. It’s incredibly humbling and unnerving all at the same time.
JoJo started kindergarten on Wednesday and, as she lifted that construction paper sign announcing her foray into elementary school for the world (or just Instagram and Facebook) to see, something terrible happened. I started sobbing. Big, dreadful, embarrassing, ugly tears. It was like they were all holding hands. Once they started falling, there was no reprieve from the infinity pool of self pity.
But when we got to the sitter’s to drop off the younger two, I said I was fine. I was fine with her looking like a 12 year old who picked out the most mature outfit in her closet. I was fine with her telling her sissies goodbye. “Wait until she goes to college,” the sitter said. And again, I cried.
But when I got back into the car to drive her to school, I said I was fine. I was fine with her sitting, crossed-legged, mouthing all the words to an Ed Sheeran song while looking longingly out the window. You know … like teenagers do. “Are you coming in with me?” JoJo asked. And again, I cried.
But as we walked hand in hand, side by side, into the school, I said I was fine. I was fine with how, as I looked down at the pavement, I noticed her shadow was catching up to mine. I was fine with how her tiny hand felt not-as-tiny nestled in mine, and how I could feel her anxious excitement on the other end. “Here we go,” I said. And I tried so hard not to cry.
As I watched her sit up so straight in her little chair, only looking back to meet eyes with me a few times, when she thought no one was looking. As I watched her walk to her cubby. As I watched her line up and march with a tentative confidence down a hallway alongside the big kids. As I watched her eyes light up at talk of reading and adventures and friends, I told myself I was fine. Everything was fine.
But as we set her on the little round seat in the lunchroom, situated with her compartmentalized tray and carton of apple juice, I didn’t feel fine. “Are you guys leaving now?” JoJo asked. I leaned down, kissed her little baby-skinned cheek, pulled down my sunglasses and didn’t try not to cry. In fact, I let it rain. I let those tears fall for the milestone and for my mourning of the past and the fact that it will always be the past, and in the past, she was tiny and snuggly and so close to me always.
“Find joy in the journey.” my friend Lindsay posted.
“This is what we do. We raise them to give them wings and let them go.” Kel offered.
“It’s a testament to you as a mom that she felt OK to go in there with confidence. It’s OK to be upset. Part of being a mom is loving them so much and worrying and crying.” a sweet coworker said (as I snotted and sobbed over her desk).
But when I got home from work, and I listened to her describe their bear hunt, and the playground, and her new friends … I knew, deep down, everything was just fine. But I still cried today, just a little.
Until next time …