Halloween at school.
I didn’t know what to expect, but I have been preparing for weeks, gathering little things: a new pair of hot pink tights with metallic silver threads here, a pair of pink and purple shimmery slippers there. I had marked the time off, ready to spend Friday morning at school for the Halloween parade. Imagine my surprise when I peeked at the yellow slip affixed to the fridge this morning, just a casual glance as I reached for the milk.
…Thursday, October 30th…
I bleated to Sean that I had the days mixed up, and so it was that twenty minutes before we were due at school that we began a rather frantic sprint to get Briar and Avery outfitted for a Halloween parade.
We arrived at school with robots, princesses and heroes already roaming the halls. I had a camera in my pocket, the battery charged and the memory card free and clear. I imagined that there might be nerves, envy, that in some way I might not have done enough. The enormity of the occasion took me by surprise.
I forget sometimes as I prepare for these moments, that as I worry that my hair may be puffy or that my left leg didn’t get shaved, that you are living a future memory– your first officially planned ahead of time play date, your first day of hookey spent at my office, your first Halloween at school.
I held it together as I waited for you downstairs in the gymnasium. I talked to dad and played with Ave, I asked other moms questions and found myself completely unworried about anything. When the music started I was a little surprised and then the flutters started in my stomach. Would you be scared? Would you be happy? Would you be able to find us?
You were in the second group and as I waited to see you walk into the room I felt the sum of my worries and effort create a fissure, my heart literally breaking. I have felt this before, this nearly unbearable panic, a need to protect you, to prevent harm, hurt or worry. I would just do anything and for a moment I worried that what I didn’t do, the date I got wrong, the ribbons I didn’t put in your hair, the to-do I didn’t make, would create a disappointment for you.
And then, there you were. Your face was different, there was a change in your carriage, a shift in your presence. I waited, not calling out your name as I wanted to. You watched your teacher and stuck close to the boy in front of you, matching him step for step. Your shoes peeked out from gossamer layers of goddess gown and the wings from grandma caught the light and shot flashes of light our way. Avery was murmuring in awe, “Look, it’s Briar. It’s Briar my sister, the princess at her school.”
I smiled and then you turned, looking right at us. Your face was the purest portrait of joy I have ever seen. Your head tilted to the side as if you couldn’t keep it all in. Your cheeks were flushed with satisfaction, a euphoria unreachable through things or promises. We watched you without moving, I snapped pictures and beamed.
My beautiful Briar. The cracks of worry filled as the impact of your joy reached me. So many people, so many costumes and you were filled with an infectious bliss. Every mistake I have made, every harsh word I’ve let slip in a moment of haste, they all slipped away and all that was left was you. My pride in your independence and delight stayed with me all day.
Sitting here hours after you went to bed I can still see that smile, I can still feel the butterflies of being your mom. You are amazing and I just wanted you to know that the magic you felt today is the feeling you have brought to my life.
I love you, my joy.