It’s the first day of school and I’ve been reading posts by other parents all over the country with children in every grade imaginable. We are all standing on the same precipice and yet the truth is no one sees the same thing, no one feels the exact same searing panic laced with euphoria. It is a kind of jarring unity to nod and murmur, “But not really, because…” and we trail off conjuring a different sweetly scented body wriggling in our arms. The times they’ve bled, the times cousins of our own hurts pass over them like storm clouds.
Two years ago we took Briar to the first day of pre-k and the scars from that experience are still hot to the touch for all of us. For months she apologized for crying on those first days and the delicate pitch of her apology nearly undid me each time. We had a bad experience, fixed it and moved —kind of, because really, where do you go after you put your child in danger? It’s a kind of suspended purgatory from which a part of you never returns.
The morning of pre-k.
The day has arrived. We’ve moved to a new house that fits us like sumptuous pajamas on the season’s fist snowfall that wakes you with its brightness before the dawn. This new house comes with a new school and a trip to school that takes place on a bus. My mind reels at the vulnerability of the situation. I will not accompany her as she heads off to school. I will not be there if there are taunts. The number of students in this school so far exceeds where she got her first taste of school. I am scared and I am not.
Despite still being a sinewy, blue eyed marvel, Briar has shed so many layers of frightened girl. I know without a shred of doubt that I am so far behind, still clutching the bits of her baby self in my fingers as if I can keep them as more than memory. She has taken the tears of those first days, the triumph of the tearless days that followed at a new school and added them upon cross country trips, did-it-myself tasks and more. She can write her name and sling sarcasm like she’s been doing it for years. And, I guess she kind of has.
My job the last few weeks, and I’ve taken it seriously despite my sorrow and barely manageable panic, has been to make this day normal. She is ready, she will be remarkable, just as we have given her the tools to be.
Today my Briar will be like everyone and no one.
Girl, you make me weep. I just dropped my 13 and soon-to-to-be-11 year old off and yes, I can barely catch my breath at how bittersweet it is. She will do great and you, after the tears are shed and some deep breaths are taken, will be ok.
I love the clarity of your recent job description, I wish I was as good at sticking to these priorities. Hoping Briar has as normal a day as possible.
Oh Amanda. You bring me to tears. “…still clutching the bits of her baby self in my fingers as if I can keep them as more than memory”
I’m so sorry she had that experience at the start. What a terrible intro to the ways of education. I hope Lauren was able to soothe some of her fears as well. She’s all glossy and in love with school. I hope the same for Briar.
Sometimes the hardest thing is to not assume our babies have the same insecurities we do. Finding the balance between telling them they will do great but it’s fine to be nervous. Like not fawning all over a child that falls and scrapes their knee. Hard to let them discover if it hurts all on their own. Did that make sense? 🙂
You did your job. We did. She was awesome today.
oooooof! I remember squeezing her cute, chubby little legs in those polka dot tights! how can she be old enough to go to school?
my heart just burst
the same and also completely different. this is what makes the world so amazing. my heart has been put through the wringer these past few weeks with school stuff: supplies, teachers, relationships, expectations and my experience is different from each of my children, and from yours. And also the same. *sigh*
thanks for sharing!
Just when I thought I was done weeping….
She is (they are) remarkable in spite of you, but *because* of you. Would it that every mother had the tenacity of spirit and the fragility of expressing so much love- both at the same time. I’m so honored to witness it.