Well, I did it. . .

I’m not exaggerating when I say that I’ve been worrying about this for years.  It probably started within their first year of life. I’m supposed to let them go?  Loosen my grip?  Put them in the hands of other people that I don’t know and trust that they will be cared for as well as I will care for them?  Do I really have to send them to school?  I used to tell Chad that he would have to take a week off work when Charlie started Kindergarten just to support me. 

We had time, though.  Let’s not dwell on it.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, the day arrived.  The day I’d been dreading.  The First Day Of School.

Over the last week, I drove Charlie and Chanelle to their respective schools, unclasped my fingers from their tiny hands, turned around, and walked away.

It started last Friday with Charlie.

I was feeling pretty confident the morning of his first day.  We had been to his school a couple of days before and met his teacher, toured his classroom, ate lunch, and found his locker.  Within moments of stepping into the school I had fallen in love.  (We open enrolled Charlie to a school about 30 min. from our home for reasons that I won’t go into now and this was my first exposure.)  Chad knew the school well as it was his childhood school and I adored the quaint little building in the beautiful little community immediately. 

Exploring his locker at orientation

After a quick photo, we jumped in the car for the 30 min. drive to school.  The drive down was like any drive with silly chatter and intermittent song requests, except for a few nervous questions from Charlie. . . Did you pack my folder?  Did you remember my lunch?  All was calm as we drove into the parking lot and parked the car.  The three of us climbed out of the car and marched up to the awaiting principal who would escort the children to their classrooms.  That’s when it happened. . . the lump.

Dang, that lump. 

I have no pictures of his first day.  No photograph of him standing with his backpack and name tag outside the school with all the other anxious Kindergartners.  Nothing.  The lump won.  I quickly handed him off, kissed the top of his head and turned my back just in time for the first tears to fall as I headed back to the car. 

Chanelle and I exited the parking lot and her happy chatter continued from the backseat while I tried to compose myself with silent tears falling from my eyes.  The tears fell, that is, until I glanced in the rear view mirror and saw my too cool for school 3-year old. . .

. . . and I started laughing.  It was a jolt back to reality reminding me to enjoy this precious little one who still needs all of me.  We had a nice afternoon painting, playing, and partaking in a little retail therapy.  Chanelle needed new shoes for school and how could we pass up her very first pair of toe socks?

She thought she was “the stuff” with these socks

Before we knew it Charlie was home and he had survived and so had we.  And just three days later we got to do it again for Chanelle’s first day. 

Oh, my little girl was ready and really, so was I.  She was going to the preschool Charlie had attended.  She  was familiar with it and there really wasn’t nervousness at all.  She excitedly got dressed and strapped on her backpack and seemed unaffected by this new schedule.  The expert, Charlie, made sure she knew that he used to go to that school so it was still, kind of, his school. 

So on Monday they both got ready and we did the porch picture once again.

After dropping Charlie off, we drove 1/4 mile down the road to Chanelle’s preschool.  She was so excited that Daddy was able to stop by and see her off for her first day.

The three of us walked up the steps and into the school with Chanelle taking the lead.  Without hesitation or assistance she sought out her cubby, removed her backpack and shoes, and headed confidently into her classroom.  (Is this my child?)

I smiled as I watched her and admired her confidence.  She planted herself down where the “circle” would gather and waved good-bye to us without a look back.  This was very different from our experience with Charlie who literally dug his heals in the floor on his first day of preschool. 
This was perfect. 

Chad and I walked out of the classroom and my eyes were clear of any sort of moisture, knowing that she was happy and excited.  Then I stepped out of the classroom and it came back. . . the lump.

That stinkin’ lump.

Seriously?  What is this about?  Out of nowhere the tears streamed down my face as I walked away from my little girl who really isn’t little anymore.  Why does this always happen?

I think I know.

Something happens in my mind when these transitions take place.  Call it intrusive thoughts, irrational thinking, or plain old over emotionalism. . . It is what it is.  In my mind I get flashes of the tiny little babies that were placed in my arms after carrying them with me for nine months.  I see the gaze of big curious eyes after the giant push that brought their screaming lungs into the world.  I see chubby cheeks and bottles hanging from their mouths.  I see first steps and first falls.  I see bald heads and the wide eyes of discovery.  In my mind, I see it all from the very beginning and I am overwhelmed. 

That’s when the tears fall.  How did they get this big?

I wish I could be one of those mom’s that can do these transitions without tears. That would probably be the healthier way to be.  I’m just not her, though.  I’m learning to accept that and just go with it.

It’s funny, though.  There is not one part of me that would have had these days different.  I am filled with excitement about the new worlds that are being opened to them.  I anticipate, with excitement, watching them discover, grow, and find their passions.  I am truly, in the deepest parts of me, happy for them.  But still, I cry.

This will likely be our reality.  My reality and theirs.  I can fight it or just accept it. It’s easier to just accept it.  I can see it now on their graduation day. . .

Why is your mom crying?
Oh, don’t mind her. . . she’s fine. . . she always cries. 

  • Written Permission - September 1, 2011 - 12:53 pm

    Ohh, this made me cry, Sum. I have absolutely no idea how you parents do this — I know when it's my time, I will be an absolute mess. I, too, will be the mom who always cries. 🙂

    But how great that, despite your fears and feelings, you allow your kids to forge ahead on their own and feel confident that they can do it. You're an amazing mom, my friend.

    Love you.ReplyCancel

  • lisa - September 1, 2011 - 2:28 pm

    I'm sitting here crying with you…it's okay to be the mom that cries. I honestly don't know how a mom could NOT cry…If I ever met a mom like that, I definitely don't think I could relate to her. I have always looked at my boys as my heart walking outside of my body. There are no words to express the depths of my love for my children- just the dang tears that creep up while trying to deal with this whole "growing up" thing…it's such a bittersweet process.

    hugs to you 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Sassytimes - September 1, 2011 - 5:11 pm

    Oh man, I fear the lump. I know it will happen to me. I know it.

    …and I love the last line of this. I'm one who always cries too. At 3 years old, S already tells me, "Mama, it's okay, I'm just getting bigger, it's okay." 😉ReplyCancel

  • Dri - September 1, 2011 - 7:09 pm

    I am "the mom who cries" too. Healthy or unhealthy, it is who I am. I'm learning to accept it and I'm sure my kids will too – with an eye roll inserted. 😉ReplyCancel

  • Trophy Life - September 1, 2011 - 9:54 pm

    oh, friend. i love that you cry. never change. i loved the photos – a LOT!! i loved hearing the accounts of both first days and i especially loved hearing all of Charlie's questions. your kiddos are 2 totally different little ones. LOVE it. love you.ReplyCancel

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