My eldest child is counting down the moments until she is a third grader. Literally. She woke me up at 5:45 am today. No sleeping in for me, thank you. Although, I was given the courtesy of a quick shake and an urgently whispered, “Mom,” in my ear. Nothing but the best from this sweet child of mine.
My eldest was never one to sleep in. Not even as a wee baby. No delightful three hour naps…myths I decided…even if my friends were the ones Luck smiled upon. I would have been satisfied with the customary two hour naps, but lo and behold, my eldest was one of those twenty minute to an hour long nappers. Oh, yeah.
Ferber. Room darkening shades. Co-sleeping. And more. Tried it all. Nothing worked. Seems my eldest just doesn’t need much sleep. Yay, me.
But what she traded in for sleep was much more precious to her. Life’s experience beckoned to my eldest, sweeping her away in a myriad of sights, smells and tastes. What’s not to love about a babbling baby, determined to reach for a colorful pile of toys beyond her grasp? When her parents are asleep? And the toys are across the room from her crib? Or a child who wakes up her daddy to steal some private biking and breakfast time before her siblings wake up? Or a child who has trouble sleeping because she can taste a win for the next day’s swim meet? Or a child who wakes up early every morning so she can get ready to seize the day?
I admit, I was anxious for today. The first day of school was my dangling carrot of hope, helping me survive some of the most brutal days of unrelenting whining from three children with nothing exciting to do. This hope was what got me out of bed this morning, rather than grabbing a few extra Zzzz’s. The first day of school. The first day of school. The first day of school. Yes!
My third grader and first grader wanted me to drive them to school this morning. Too many school jitters flew into their thoughts. What if I don’t know where my class is? What if I miss my bus? What if my sister isn’t on the bus? What if I have no friends? What if nobody wants to sit with me at lunch?
They checked their crisp backpacks, making sure all their school supplies and lunches were in place, then climbed into the car, jousling and nudging each other, smoothing out their clothes and hair. Silence during the five minute car ride. No smiles. Nothing.
As we meandered over to the school yard, eldest one’s face brightens. Her best friend shrieked out her name, and ran over. Each one hugged the other for dear life. Then, they disappeared into the crowd. No goodbye. No kisses. Nothing.
Abandoned by her sister, first grader clutched my hand. We ventured closer. And an angelic face appeared. A friend. Unlike the older girls, first grader and her friend stayed right by my side as we found their class line. I got my hug and kiss from my little one. Happy first grader. Happy mom. For a moment. Because in the back of my mind, I felt sadness because my third grader went off to conquer her day. Without me.
It just so happened that I had to pass third grader’s class line. Really. And there’s eldest and her best friend, chattering and heading up the line. Ready to seize the day. I stayed at the fringe of crowd, unsure of whether third grader wanted me to be there, but willing her to notice me. Was I ever thrilled when eldest and her best friend ran over and gave me hugs.
Even though I was waiting for this first day of school, I must admit, I shed a few tears. In my car. At home. It’s quite the bittersweet moment for me. My girls are growing up. Waiting to experience life, and at times, impatient to grow up.
I’m not a poet, but I couldn’t help but write this original poem. If I can’t be there with my kids, every step of the way, I might as well bless them. This is dedicated to my incredible children, and yours.
Experience all that life has to offer.
And know within their hearts
All the power that is within them.