Tuesday, a school bus pulls up to our house to pick up Lamp for preschool. Lamp was squealing, excited and driving as fast as her power chair would take her, which was obviously not fast enough. Finally, she was starting preschool this year, or as she tells everyone Pre-K kindergarten. We're still working on that part. Anyway, she could not wait and honestly neither could I. I couldn't wait that is, until that actual minute I watched a giant bus drive away with my petite, sweet Lamp waving goodbye earnestly from the darkened bus window charging toward her big pre-k life and then suddenly my heart was like wait, wait, WAIT!!!
For weeks I feel like I've been barely able to catch my breath. The house, the kids, the dinner making, the blogging, the time to myselfing, the busy busy husband, the settling, the late hours, the early mornings, the sick baby... it's been a lot. Settling into a new life--even if we've lived here before--takes time. And really, it does feel new all over again. I've been stressed. Stretched to my limits, and even breaking through those limits a few times. The one thing I've been sorta holding onto is Lamp going to preschool. This is the only change/reprieve I have in the coming weeks, the only sign of my load being lightened even a little and I need it.
Unlike private preschool, going through the district has taken a lot of work. Several meetings with district people--therapists, directors, teachers, aids. Not to mention an IEP, filling out paperwork, doctor appointments, referrals... the works. And almost every day Lamp has been asking, Do I get to go to school today? When do I get to go to school? And everyday I'm checking my calendar wondering the same thing, Does she go to school today? When does she go to school?
So here we were both ready, willing and excited for preschool. Lamp's excited for new friends, learning, computer time, motor skills, eating at school, riding the bus... everything. I'm excited for a few hours a day with just one kidlet under my belt, a little less noise and a little more time. Finally after meeting, meeting, meeting and waiting, waiting, waiting Tuesday was the first day of preschool. I get a phone call telling me the bus is on the way to pick her up (oh yessiree, she gets bussed to and from school) I tell her they're on their way and she starts squealing and scooting down the hallway--she can not contain her excitement. She is an aerosol can of excitement if you will, that someone has punctured because that stuff is going errrywhere . We get her bag, put on her jacket, buckle her in her power chair and there she goes, charging full speed ahead to the big yellow bus.
And it hits me.
Wait, wait....lets get a picture! I say to B who miraculously happens to be home. She stops and poses for a picture, but my heart is already in my throat and as she speeds away I click a few more.
The bus. It's so big. And she's so little. And it's taking her to school. They lower the lift in the back of the bus, I climb inside to help them get her out of her chair and situated into a carseat. She is beaming from ear to ear. So excited, meanwhile my mama heart is doing a double take.
Did we do the right thing? Is this the right thing? We would have put her in school somewhere right? This is a big bus and how do I know when she'll get to school? I haven't even met these bus drivers yet, this could be some elaborate kidnapping ploy. Is this carseat in tight enough? No, have them tighten it.
So while Lamp is sitting there giddy with excitement, grinning from ear to ear, I'm in the middle of an internal civil war. One minute I'm convinced that I'm on the cusp of a mental breakdown begging for space, air, time and the next minute, I'm questioning the very existence of public schooling and wondering why I didn't request hard copies of the background checks for every person in the building including the other children just to be safe.
The great dichotomy of motherhood, at least for me, is how crazy my children make me one minute and how much love my heart feels ready to pop the next. Wanting them out of my hair and loving their sticky little fingers on my face in the same breath. This sentiment seems particularly true of Lamp. Perhaps it's 4-year-olds in general. Either way, I cannot win.
As I'm buckling her into a car seat on the bus Lamp says, "Give me kisses, give me kisses. (I comply) OK mom. Now get off the bus."
And I just laugh because that girl... oh that girl. She is ready to carpe diem the crap out of her first day of preschool and no one is going to stand in her way. Not even me. So. get. off. the. freaking. bus. mom.
I get off the bus and my heart is swelling with so many emotions and I admit that one of those emotions was fear. It's scary sending my especially vulnerable 4-year-old out into the world leaving the protective safety of my shadow. But Lamp, she is not scared. I always tell her she's the bravest girl I know and it never seemed truer than in that moment waving to her from the bus window as she slowly pulls away.
I walk back to the house, take a deep breath and my first thought slaps me upside the head... it's too quiet in here.
For the record, Lamp had a great first day of school. She's loving it so far and it really is good for all of us--myself included. Huzzah!