To: all the parents of the earth on the day your kids start school in the fall
From: me…today on the day my kids went back to school
We dropped them off, my husband and I. We walked them into their loving classrooms. They were cool. They were fine. They were happy. They knew what to do. Our littlest one started Kindergarten without a hesitation, a misstep, a faltering or a look back. She was born ready for this day. Our oldest sauntered out to play like an old pro. Last year his teacher gave us the best compliment about our son. She said he is on his own form of Valium…that his calmness helps keep the other kids grounded. She said everything is no big deal for him. (I’m sure that is all true at school…but it is a different story at home.)
So where is my Valium, huh? I am a puddle as I type…snot and tears streaming down my face. After drop off, I walked into the silent house and the silence was so loud that I instantly wanted to turn around and go run meaningless errands to avoid it. But I stayed. I made myself stay with these feelings.
Now, after making a smoothie, the music is turned up in my studio to help me let go, but it isn’t working. We are supposed to be OK with this. We waited a whole summer for them to start again, but here it is and all I want is to go get them. I miss them. My house is so quiet. No one is whining or crying or bouncing anything. I can’t hear the Nerf bullets sticking to things with their whoosh-pop as they spew from the one and only gun we have in our no-guns-allowed house. I can’t hear that gentle sing-song talking my daughter does as she plays with her dolls…always talking and telling stories about the characters she invents. Her characters are always friends.
This whole thing of living is a grand exercise of letting go. Parenting is a slow slide until college and then whoosh-pop like a Nerf bullet they’re gone. My children are 8 and almost 5. Please don’t judge me for not wanting them to go to college. One day they will go, I know, but elementary school is hard enough. If I could stop squeaking and sobbing, I could type better…but my shoulders are bouncing up and down so I keep having to stop typing.
I know that everyone reading this knows exactly what I am feeling. I hope that these words give you permission to cry over your keyboard, turn up your music, burn some sage, eat some chocolate, text your partner, and just STAY. Stay with these feelings. Right now. Although they are uncomfortable. Don’t run away from the exquisite sadness of letting go of the precious beings that call you mom or dad. Don’t run to shopping or yoga today, on their first day back at school. Just pretend to work. Stay. Shuffle papers around. Try so hard to get something done, but know that you won’t be very productive. Be with your feelings so they don’t come out sideways later. Don’t stuff them, erase them or bury them. These feelings are what it is all about. Honor them. This is a rite of passage for us, too.
Because we are raising these amazing little beings and after a whole summer of togetherness, the bubble has been broken and they are off on the monkey bars and kickball fields. They are writing and singing and drawing.
And we are here in their wake. Oh, and isn’t it so beautiful to be in their wake? The beautiful wake of the humans we made. They shake us up. They shake us down. They crack us open. They live in us and we in them on the monkey bars. All this grasping I feel…it is just the reaction of my fingers used to reaching out for their hands in the drowsy summer days of too many hot parking lots. So much hand holding. So much sofa. So much together.