I pride myself in being a life long learner. I learned that term in Nursing school a couple years ago, and thought it sounded smart, so I try to work it into conversations whenever possible. For instance, today I learned that when you eat a whole box of Milk duds, the size you take to the movies to share with a family of 6, but this time you eat it all by yourself in a dark room to comfort yourself, the next day there will be repercussions. Of the gastrointestinal kind.
You might be wondering why I needed to comfort myself with food. You also might not care, and if that's the case, please don't tell me. It might hurt my feelings so much that I'll eat the Junior Mints next. I swear I will. I’m almost embarrassed to admit what had me in an eating frenzy last night. A lot of moms I know were thrilled to send their kids back to school and regain their freedom once again. Not this mom. I've been dreading the day all summer, and today it finally arrived.
Now it hasn't always been this way. Several years back, when Jack was in 1st. grade, and had more energy than a rabid rotweiller, and two other little babies were barely out of diapers, then I was sort of glad to have a safe place to send Jack for several hours a day. I felt guilty for being glad though. That's how people pleasers have to justify everything. If they admit to being happy then they have to equally feel guilty about it too. (Who knew you were gonna get a lesson in abnormal psychology today? You are welcome)
Anywho. Today we drove our sweet children off to school once again. They knew the drill. This day we weren't just going to drop them on the curb and head out for a mani pedi. No, this is the day we all walk in together. Faith immediately ran to the wall where 6th grade lines up and pretended not to know us. Will allowed us to watch him play tetherball, but not cheer for him loudly or give him any tethering kind of pointers. We said hi to other parents and I held back tears when I hugged a few of them, knowing this day is just as hard for them as it was for us. Faith did end up wandering over to us with her friends, not to really acknowledge us, but more to let us know she was doing okay. We were so glad to see her pretty face one more time before she headed in to begin her new year. The dreaded whistle blew and it was time to line up.
At this point in the day, since Will was in kindergarten, I would be full blown in tears. Not the ugly cry with snot pouring out of my nose, mind you, but the kind that feels like my throat is closing and I'm going to choke back a huge sob that might come out like, "No! My babies! No! Stop growing up this instant!". Thankfully I never screamed that out loud, but for the grace of God. This year, this year as my youngest son lined up for 4th grade, something strange happened. I didn't cry. I didn't even feel like I was going to cry. I felt sad to say goodbye, but not the kind of sad where you feel like you can't breathe. I looked over at Billy and he was smiling too. And in his arms was our 2 year old Little Miss Sassy Pants, wriggling around yelling "bye" to Will and taking it all in.
We walked to our car, drove home, sent Billy off to work, and set about to do our day. The house was peaceful, but not silent. There was just enough noise to remind me I wasn't alone, and even though my heart was sad, it was also full of gratitude. I worked downstairs doing laundry and paying bills, all the while my heart sang for joy at the sounds of a little girl up in her room playing quietly with Legos. Later when she came downstairs to check out what I was doing, she saw her siblings pictures on the computer. She began to ohhhh and ahhhh at their faces, and said out loud, "Will wuv me. Faif wuv me. Oh my Dackie!" She knows she belongs, and she knows she is loved.
By the time Little Miss woke up from her nap it was time to go and pick the kids up. She knew it too. She woke up asking for them. We jumped in the car and couldn't wait to see their sweet faces. First Jack arrived and then Faith and Will. The reports of the day were wonderful, as we listened and asked questions. They told us about their funny teachers and about being a friend to the new kid. Will mentioned he was using a plastic Target bag for a lunchbox, and Faith told me I forgot some important paperwork. Dear Lord, I'll never have it all together, but none of that stuff matters. All that matters is we have four kids that know they are loved. We have four kids that know their identity. We have four kids that are striving to grow in character and grace, as their mom and dad give them ample opportunities to learn the meaning of forgiveness. We have four kids that won't be home forever, but tonight they are. And for that, we give thanks to God.