Monday, August 18, 2008

To Emma, Love Mom- First Day of Kindergarten

Last night, I was preparing Emma's lunch for our big milestone today and as I was attempting to cut the most perfect heart out of a sandwich with a cookie cutter, I began to think about my friend Julie….

A little over two years ago, Julie had a baby prematurely. Jaden was born 8 weeks early. Julie just happened to be visiting her mother near Pittsburgh when she started having complications. She called and said that they were moving her from the small town hospital in her hometown to a larger one with a NICU in Pittsburgh and that there was a possibility that a cesarean would have to be performed. I called the next morning and she seemed quite dazed and she reported that a c-section had been done and she had become a mother of two, significantly earlier than they had anticipated.

I am so happy to tell you that Jaden is now a very active, thriving two year old. But during the first days and then weeks after he was born, as a friend, I felt helpless as I listened to Julie’s feelings of helplessness. First, I will say that I marveled at how well she held it together so that she could do all that she could to help Jaden. She was strong but there was stress, and tears… lots of tears. She couldn’t hold him, she couldn’t feed him, but she could pump milk to be fed to him through an IV. So she clung to the one thing that she could do. She pumped and she took milk to the hospital for many, many days.

Later, she told me that she wrote on the milk bags, "To Jaden, Love Mom". She explained to me that all though nurses were taking care of him and she couldn’t, she needed them to know that she was his mother…. 

Now I am not trying to equate something that most mothers do (taking their children to Kindergarten) with something as traumatic as having a baby prematurely. But, last night, as I was preparing to send Emma off to Kindergarten, I found myself desperately trying to find a way to let these people know that I was not only leaving a student with them, but that they were also going to be taking care of someone’s heart; my heart. At that moment, I became all too aware that this is the beginning of letting her go. I feel like in many ways, this is the day I have been preparing for since the day she was born. I have always known that the day was going to come where she would spend more of her waking hours with someone else than she does with me. I pray that we’ve packed enough love and guidance in.. I pray that somehow in the best understanding that a five year old can have, she understands how proud I am to be her mother, that God trusted me with her. And, as she goes out into the world, that she remembers that even more importantly than belonging to her daddy and me, she belongs to God.

So, I fashioned a heart out of sandwich, and stuck in our family picture with a note that said, “We love you” in her lunch box. I questioned if I was giving her enough to eat and listened to Adam laugh as he told me she had never eaten that much food in one day much less one meal. I ironed her dress and fixed her hair. I took the pictures and walked her to her class. I made sure she looked me in the eyes as I told her she was not to leave that afternoon with anyone but me. She quickly got busy with a project that the teacher had given her. And after one last picture, I gave her a kiss and turned and walked out the door into the next chapter of our life. Adam and I said all the things that parents say… That time has gone so quickly. That we will blink and be sending her off to college and then with her husband. And, I know that the only thing I can do is ask God to help us guide her and try desperately to cherish each moment along the way.

Please excuse the drama. This is a very traumatic time for me. I’m not even going to go into how frightening it is to me to think of when Chloe goes off to school (I know it sounds like I’m talking about sending my kids off to college, I’m still talking about Kindergarten here) and I don’t have a child at all during the day but I guess there’s no sense in agonizing over that until we get to that point. Post on that coming sooner than I want to believe….

So now that you’ve patiently indulged me and read about my near emotional breakdown, I’ll tell you how it went.

Emma did great. Last night, I was teasing her and pretend crying and told her that I couldn’t do it and I thought we should keep her home for another year. She reassured me by telling me that she was excited but would miss me and that it wasn’t like she would never have a day off. There was a brief moment in the car where she told me that she was excited but a little scared. But we got to the school and she sported the confidence that she has become quite famous for and barely even noticed when I left. When I picked her up, she informed me that her card was on white all day and explained that that was where it was good to be. She exclaimed that she loved Kindergarten and that she thought it was going to be a wonderful year..

And I thanked God that this is only traumatic because I’m by nature a basket case and not because any actual trauma occurred.