It has been one week since the first day I brought my daughter to her new elementary school to start kindergarten. That day, walking to the school, I was ok. She was excited to get started. The morning went well. Walking to the school with all our neighbors and their kids, someone asked me how I was doing. “Really ok.” I said. It was the truth, at the moment.
Then, we walked in the door. All the kids. All the busyness. The song playing on the speakers. I didn’t recognize it. But it was a slow song. Probably something about growing up or time passing or something sentimental. Seriously, it was the last thing I needed as I grappled with containing how I started to feel. Why couldn’t it have been something upbeat or that I heard a million times so I could tune it out, like “Let It Go” or “Best Day of My Life” or something? Not sure what it was, maybe her face as she took everything in or that daggone slow song, but all of a sudden this overwhelming emotion hit me. Oh dear Lord, I was going to cry. Not now! This was going to be harder than I thought.
What is it about things like this that can reduce a calm and reasonable mother to a puddle? I held it together (barely), walking her down the hall. I couldn’t say anything or I would just lose it. We got her to her room and I helped her put things in her cubby. I’m sure the teacher saw the impending emotional implosion was imminent and politely, wisely prompted me to get the hell out of there. I mustered a “have a great day and I love you” trying not to have that cracky, "right before you cry" pitch to my voice before booking it out.
In the hall, the tears came. It was good seeing her so happy to start, going into the school and down the hall to her room without hesitation. She didn’t cling to me. She didn’t ask to leave. She was ready. I logically did not know why this made me so weepy, but it did. I mean, it's good that she didn't freak out or make me feel like garbage for leaving her at school. It was really good, but I still felt sad that my little one grew up, just that much more. It was official now.
Onto waiting to see how the day played out, wondering things like did she get through the cafeteria line to get her lunch and have enough to eat? Was she adjusting well? Was she listening to her teacher? Was she making friends? A week later, I can tell you, it all worked out fine. Ok, so the first day she didn't go through the cafeteria line and instead mistook her snack of graham crackers and orange slices for both her snack and lunch, but otherwise, it was fine. It could have been way worse.
One of the neighbors, in my far more condensed social post on that event later in the morning, remarked it was “seasons and stages”. That perfectly summed it up for me. This wasn’t the first time I had to let her go and let her grow. It won’t be the last. I don’t think it ever gets easy, but it’s that part of parenting that you love and hate all at once.
I remember having to leave her at daycare for the first time when she was an infant. It broke my heart to turn and walk away to go to work. I knew I was coming back but I wanted to just take her and run back home. I think we were both crying. There were several other times over the past five years where I have had to let her grow up a little more and a little more. None of those times were easy. I guess none of them ever really will be. You get through them and you celebrate each move forward, even when it can make your heart hurt a little at the same time.