Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Kindergarten

Everyone says moms are emotional when they send their kids to school, but I really felt just excited and calm about Natalie going to Kindergarten.

waiting for 7:40 so she can go in!

Then we pulled up to school on that first day and my chest felt like a 100-pound rock was crushing it, and I had a huge lump in my throat as I rotated through so many emotions:

fear
excitement
sadness
anxiety
love
excitement
nervousness
terror
protection
concern
love
pride
joy
pride
love
protection
worry
distrust
doubt
pride


 I didn't let anyone see what I was feeling, but the pressure and the lump only grew bigger as I walked Natalie up to the steps to wait for the doors to open so she could go inside for breakfast. She looked so SMALL. Teeny teeny tiny Natsby with a backpack bigger than she is standing half as tall as the big 5th graders. My heart could hardly stand it! Natalie and I had been talking excitedly the whole morning, but we reached a lull when the doors opened and she looked into my face with her big brown eyes and said, "I'm going to miss you all day, Mom."



!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I don't know how I got through that without crumpling up into a ball of tears, but I did, and we went inside and followed the group to the cafeteria. Natalie hung up her backpack and got right in line, and told the girl next to her that she liked her shoes.


 my fearless Natsby


 I knew it was probably time for me to go but I just couldn't. I told myself it was to make sure she got through the line okay and her cafeteria account worked like it should, but I knew all the staff saw right through it and were gracious enough to not mention it. They must've seen hundreds of moms just like me over the years. Natalie got her breakfast, found a seat without a spot of hesitation or shyness, and said "bye mom" like "okay, I have my breakfast, I'll see you later!" My heart lurched but I gave her a kiss and told her she'd have a great day, and then I walked out blinking furiously. I knew Austin would make fun of me (or not know how to react - crying Jessie can be hard to deal with) so I forced myself not to cry until I had dropped him off for his own first day of school. Then I cried all the way to Omaha, missing my Natsby, wondering how she was doing, hoping she was happy and knew who she could ask questions to and feeling like she was so far away from me in every sense of the phrase.

"I see my mom!"

"bye Miss Beck!"
We're halfway through the second week and I'm still tearing up thinking about everything. I keep wondering: does the pang ever go away? I'm sure it will lessen, as it already has a tiny bit, but it feels like she spends so much time at school and so little time at home, and my tunnel vision shoots straight to college in however many years when she leaves me and I get so sad thinking of that day! But then I stop and take a deep breath, hug her close, read books and have light saber fights and watch Curious George, and remind myself to take it as slow as I can and not bring the future faster than it is already coming.



Jeez, listen to me. This is what happens when I try to process my emotions.

Of course she's doing well, having a good time, coming home full of stories about silly songs they learned or what she ate for lunch and being excited to show me what she picked out of the prize box. She doesn't know I'm sad, and I try to hide my face when she says things like, "but what do I do when I just want a hug from you but I'm at school?" or "school is fun but it takes so long; I wish you could come inside with me."

And it's not sadness, exactly. Just heavy, deep emotion. I don't feel old enough to have a five-year-old. It surprises me that she is as much of a "real person" already as she is. As I checked on her before I went to bed the other night I just stared at this little girl feeling bewildered that she was mine and that she already had hopes and dreams and opinions and feelings and that I was her mom and was I doing enough/doing it right/being who she needs me to be? I just wanted to wake her up and hug her tight and talk to her all night and never take her back to school because I don't want to miss a single second of being with her.



I love my Natsby with all my heart and hope that she will always turn back to give me another hug before she hops out of the car for school. Here's to twelve more years of the public school life! Hopefully my heart can take it!

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