First Days

IMG_6982First Days…we’ve all had them.  First day on the job.  First day of a new relationship.  First day of marriage.  They are exciting.  They are important.  They are milestones.

I am very familiar with first days of school.  If you count my first days of preschool through college and then my first days of school as a teacher, I think I’ve had 39 first days of school (40 counting tomorrow).  As my principal mentioned in our meeting yesterday, that’s the exciting thing about teaching.  We get to start fresh every year.  So do the kids.  New hopes, new excitements, new firsts.

Tomorrow is our son’s first day of kindergarten.  Now this is a milestone that I am still absorbing.  In fact, it keeps jumping up and poking me in the heart at the oddest times, leaving me in tears made of something I can’t quite describe–not sadness, not joy, but some misty combination of pride, deep love, and sorrow at the quick passing of time.  Our sweet, high-energy, deep-thinking, silly, sensitive, imaginative, roller coaster of a little boy is heading off to kindergarten.

E loved preschool.  He loved his teachers, the books, the block center, the kids, the playing!  Now he’s headed to all-day kindergarten.  In my heart, I know that he will love it, but of course, I am filled with fears too.  I want him to grow and learn and to feel accepted, loved, and confident every day.  I want him to make friends and happy memories.  I want it to go well.

Did I mention E will be attending my school?  Yes, while my husband drops E off at his classroom for his big, important first day, I will be welcoming a bunch of amazing students who are also excited for their first day.  While my son, this huge part of my heart, will be down the hall, timidly beginning his elementary journey, another part of my heart will be expanding to take in these special fifth graders for the last year of their elementary careers.  I want to create a wonderful fifth grade experience for them.  I will work so hard to be the best teacher I can be for them, just as I know E’s teachers will do for him.

There is so much to take in on such a big first day.  Yet my mind keeps roaming back to that first, first day.  After 19 hours of labor, that warm, fragile baby boy of mine was finally placed onto my chest, his heart near mine.  His first day in the world; my first day as a mom.  I kissed his forehead, thanked God for him, cried, and began a life of dreaming, worrying, and loving.  Tomorrow, my husband and I will send E to his first day of kindergarten.  E will be okay.  I am pretty sure we will be too.  It’s a big first day, but we know there will be many more firsts ahead of us.  We will kiss him on the forehead, thank God for him, cry, and continue to dream, worry, and love.

slice of life

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First day of school sign from Remodelaholic.

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Parental Truth Telling

Have you ever had that friend that called it like she saw it? Told the truth even if it made you squirm a bit?  Stacey is that friend to me.  I’ve known her since college, and I look forward to the many more years of our friendship.  She’s a quiet, gentle soul, but she’s got spunk.  She’s not afraid to say the truth.  I’m truthful too, but I’m much more guarded in what I say.  I take things in, process them through rose-colored glasses (which I inherited from my mother), and then consider all audiences and their feelings before sharing my thoughts.  Stacey just says it.  I love that about her!

Recently Stacey stayed with my family for a few days.  It was so good to see her.  I always feel like my tank has been filled, my soul has been repaired and restored, after visits with her.  While here, Stacey, my husband, and I enjoyed reconnecting with each other’s children.  Stacey finally got to meet our sweet daughter, and she showered her with snuggles and attention.  She also talked to and played with our loving, energetic four-year old son.  Scott and I marveled at how much her teenage boys have grown, and we smiled as we watched them relate so wonderfully to our children.

Stacey also had the honor of witnessing the multitude of tiny (and sometimes big) meltdowns our son had while she and the boys were here.  Due to the change in routine and extra stimulation of having visitors, E had even more tantrums than usual.  At some point on the last day, hearing me sigh after yet another scream from Mr. Fussy Pants, Stacey put her hand on my shoulder and spoke two words that, after my initial shock, warmed my heart.  “Parenting sucks,” she said.

Now before you get too offended, please know that Stacey loves her children more than anything.  She is an amazing mom (the mom, other than my own dear mother, like whom I constantly hope that I can be), and she is a talented, loving teacher.   I, too, love my children, marvel at them daily, and count being their mother as one of the greatest gifts God has given me. But, full disclosure here, parenting IS hard.  It is exhausting.  To be so invested in these little beings, these special extensions of my heart, and then to have them scream or tantrum or make poor choices—it’s enough to knock down the strongest of parents.  Not to mention the worries and frets they cause you as you watch them now or think about their futures—yikes!  Following Stacey’s bold lead, it just feels good to be honest about this.  For a moment, at least.

This truth telling may seem to run against the themes of my other posts.  I know I’m not alone.  We all post happy pictures of our kids on Facebook or Instagram, gushing with pride and love.  It’s not dishonest.  Those are the parts that we hold onto at the end of the day.  Those are the moments that lift us up and make our buttons burst.  If I am like my mother, I’m pretty sure those will be the ones that I remember when my children are grown.  But maybe we need to hear from each other now and then, so we don’t freak out that we’re doing something wrong.  Let’s just remind each other.  Parenting is hard.  It can even “suck” sometimes.  Totally worth it, wouldn’t trade it for the world, but it isn’t easy.  Thank God we have our spouses, our dear friends, and our families to lean on in the process.