I still remember my first day of 6th grade, after just moving to a new school when my mom remarried: I was so shy, so scared, and so incredibly insecure. I wanted to carry my books, instead of wearing a backpack, because I thought that would make me look cool. And scanning the room as I walked in, looking for an empty seat, trying desperately to mask the panic I was feeling inside, is still so vivid in my memory.
Moving is hard on kids, and moving to a place where you don't know a single face is even harder. And yet my girls did surprisingly well on their first day of school! I know they're younger, and not in that awkward middle school-about to hit puberty-but haven't yet-but those girls have-stage, but they did have very close friends at a very small and family-like school in the town where they were born. And not only did they have to say goodbye to so many sweet friends and their cat, they also had to say goodbye to their loving Nana.
What I don't remember from my first day of 6th grade is how my mother felt. I actually never even gave it any thought. She didn't have to go to school after all... And yet now, after reflecting on this first week of new school for my girls, I'm not only positive that she had her own fears and worries that day, but every day before and since, starting with the day my big sister was born.
I'm still young in motherhood, my oldest is only 7. But thus far I can honestly say that one of the hardest things I have to do as a mom is allow my kids to do without me. I LOVE that the girls are still at an age where they'll hold my hand as we walk to their classroom, but once we get to the door I have to let go of those hands, the control over their decisions, the impulse to guide them through their day as they meet new friends. I can no longer stand there as I once did on so many playgrounds, introducing them to other kids, helping them learn how to socialize. BUT I WANT TO.
Then, the other morning, I sat with Harper on the bench outside her classroom, waiting for her teacher to open the door for the day, with 3 of the kids from her class and another mom. She decided to have a staring contest with the kitty on her lunch box, goofball that she is. And I watched her be genuinely funny, making the other 3 kids giggle...not with judgment, not at her, but at her clever humor. She brought smiles to the people around her, and it made me realize that she's going to be just fine. Not just here at her new school, but in life, because she is able to show the people around her the person she truly is, and she's not afraid!
And then there's Kinley, as brave as can be, who tells Harper how to make friends and what to say in certain situations, easily wearing her confidence without even knowing it. Making friends is what she's good at, and she truly enjoys meeting new people.
I'm proud, relieved, happy, thankful...there will be plenty of challenges ahead, I know, and other scary situations my kids will have to face. And this Wednesday I will be putting my last kid, my son, into preschool for the first time. I'm sure that will be a post of its own! But we have officially done the 'move to a new town and start a new school' thing, and everyone is happy and moving forward. And as we settle into life here, granted it's only been just over a week, we are starting to make friends through work and our neighborhood, too. The girls had 3 new friends over for a play date last night, 2 sisters we know through our work and the neighbor's granddaughter, all about the same age. They played barbies, performed a rock concert, and pretended to be princesses, wearing pieces of star fruit as their crowns.
The inner conflict every parent feels between wanting to keep them young and wanting them to grow all at the same time... The battling, contradicting desires to keep them close to the nest and watch them soar, knowing that once they do, they will gradually fly farther and farther as their confidence builds... These feelings are ever present, but I feel that the desire to see them grow their wings is winning out in me.