OK here's the deal. It's getting late and I've written or re-written this post about 3 times now and I'm getting no where. So I'm just going to simplify and get it out.
My daughter starts school tomorrow and I'm somewhere between wanting to cry my eyes out and jumping for joy. And for me, the best word that describes that somewhere-in-the-middle feeling is anxious. I feel anxious for her, anxious for me, anxious for this new life, anxious to say goodbye to the old life...just anxious. I'm not yet comfortable and not yet settled.
Did I enjoy the time with her while I had it? I wondered tonight while I was getting dinner ready. The answer of course is no. I was too busy being a mom. First the sleeplessness and the adjustment to motherhood, then the teaching and molding, the feeding and diapering, the cleaning and the disciplining. The bathing and laundering. The yelling and apologizing and regretting. And the just plain surviving.
But the other part of my answer is Yes. Emphatically yes! Over the past 5 years how many times have I looked at that beautiful child and uttered a prayer of gratitude that she was sent to me? Hundreds, at least. We've had walks--walks to the park, walks in the zoo, walks around the neighborhood, walks to get the mail. Cuddles and cuddles and even more cuddles. Dancing and singing and playing Candyland or Uno. Dress ups and playdates and tea parties. I've looked into her eyes and told her that I love her more than she'll ever know and I've watched her from a distance with a smile across my face and pure love beating through my veins.
It's all there. The monotony and struggle are part of the joy. You have to have both.
So tonight we had our special back-to-school dinner and the theme I chose was Kindness Begins With Me. Something I want to emphasize to my first daughter going to school for the first time. The popularity game seems to be starting younger and younger and if there's anything I regret from my youth it's that I cared a too much about being cool and not enough about being kind.
It wasn't over the top or anything just some streamers, a banner I've had for years, some matchy straws and some special treats. And we talked about being kind and about lots of other things too.
After dinner was probably my favorite part. Her dad gave her a father's blessing. And after her blessing was over, Lamp said I want a blessing too, so she got one too. I still have the image of my girls in my mind with their fathers hands placed on their heads and their beautiful faces bowing with closed eyes, knowing that this was a special and reverent occasion. It was beautiful and sweet. And if there's anything that can calm my anxious soul, it's prayer...so even better. (If you're not familiar with this practice you can read more about it here. While by no means mandatory, it's typical for an LDS father to give his children a blessing before the beginning of a new school year, among other times.)
After dinner and clean up, we went through the school supplies, writing her name on everything and laying out her school outfit (nothing too exciting...uniforms...I have mixed feelings on that).
Then reading, brushing teeth and tucking into bed...with a few extra snuggles.
If this picture is any indication, she'll be fine.
I know she'll thrive. And I know I'll miss her...as will her little sister.
Tears or no tears tomorrow...it's too early to say.
But you can bet your bottom dollar I'll be praying my little heart out.