Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Your First Day of School

It was Friday, June 6th, 2014. We had dropped off a bin full of your things the day before, and I had packed a bag the night before. I knew it was just practice, but I woke up with my game face on. As I moved your bottles from the fridge to your bag, I prayed that you would accept them that day. When I woke you up, you looked up at me and smiled. I nursed you, got you dressed, and we headed out the door.

Your uncle Mark was with me on the endless 8-minute drive to school.

My heart pounded as we pulled into the parking lot. You smiled as I took the carseat out. I think you recognized where you were, or at least you knew it was some place fun. We had visited a couple of times before, and you had always been greeted by smiling faces, bright colors, fun toys. We walked inside and met Miss Soo, who watches you until your teacher Miss Sam arrives at 9:30. I took you out of your carseat, and held you close as I unloaded your things in Miss Sam's classroom. Miss Soo cheerfully walked me through what would become an automatic routine. You were smiling at us and cooing the entire time. I put you in a bouncy seat, kissed you goodbye, and told you I'd be back in a few hours. You were too distracted by the bouncy seat (it was different from yours at home, so I'm sure the novelty of the situation was far too intriguing) to notice me slipping out the door.

I walked down the hallway with my head held high, but I felt a lump rising in my throat. I had heard over and over again that every mom cries when they drop off their kid for the first time. But I wasn't like those moms! I'd had the privilege of spending an extra three months with you, even when that wasn't our initial plan. I loved my career and was eager to return to it. And besides, I wasn't cut out to be a stay-at-home-mom. It didn't suit me. So why did I find myself pulling sunglasses over my face to hide the tears before I even left the building?

As soon as I got into my car, I broke down. I don't think I'd ever experienced so many emotions simultaneously before. I felt guilty for leaving you, for wanting something more than just spending time with you. I felt worried, about returning to work, about whether you'd like daycare, about whether you'd eat, about the germs you'd inevitably catch, and what kind of disaster could occur to one of us while we were separated from each other. I felt excited about having a life outside of you again. I felt guilty again for feeling excited. I felt relief that the bandaid had been ripped off, that the worst was supposedly over. I felt exhausted just reflecting on everything we had been through over the past few months, from a traumatic birth to our trials with breastfeeding to really embracing my new role. I felt joy knowing that I was making the right decision for you, for me, for our family. And I felt happy, knowing that I would never be more happy to see your face at the end of the day.

I called your daddy far before I had even begun to calm down. He said that he had decided to go into work late and would I like to help make him more late and join him for coffee? Have I ever mentioned how wonderful a guy he is? I met him at a little coffee shop in the Square, and we sat outside in the courtyard. There are few things a chocolate croissant can't fix.

The best thing about early June in Atlanta is that the mornings still feel like spring even though the rest of the day sure feels like summer. (That and the fireflies. But we'll play with those more when you're older.)

Your daddy and I sat there and talked. We talked about how much you've grown, about how much we love you, and about our plans for the future. I went home and baked. It's actually a nervous habit of mine, and it's helpful to keep my hands busy. It reminded me of the time I baked just before you arrived, probably because I had Tangled on in the background again. I pumped, and then I went to my massage appointment. The massage therapist was running late, so she added an extra half hour onto my session for free. This made me late to pick you up, but I decided I was okay with it. This was a pretty big turning point for me. I put myself first again, and it was worth it. The massage was fabulous, and long overdue. (That's an important lesson, my dear. It's important to be considerate of others and even selfless at times, but you must always prioritize time for yourself. And most importantly, don't ever feel guilty for doing so.)

When I picked you up, I felt as though I hadn't seen you in years. You smiled as I gave you a big hug and kissed your sweet cheeks. Miss Sam gave me a full report of how your day went, and I thanked her for being so wonderful to you. You passed out as soon as we got in the car, so I decided to pick up a late lunch at Chick-Fil-A. Turns out I was their 100th customer of the day, so my meal was free. I almost cried all over again. I sat in the parking lot and ate my free meal while you slept. Then, I decided to put some good back into the universe so that my guardian angel would know that I had noticed him. I went back through the line and picked up the ticket for the person behind me. We went home and played as though nothing had changed.

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