This morning was the first day of school for my girls. I won't lie and tell you that firsts get any easier for me. For the first time ever, I was excited about taking them back to school but as soon as I left my second grader in her new class and before I even left the school building, my heart was heavy with all the feelings; the missing, the growing up and the letting go. I freaking hate the letting go.
The girls are now 9 and 7, so we don't have to worry about the dreaded first day of preschool and kindergarten. Jeez, those days nearly broke my mommy heart in half. Again this morning, moms were dropping like flies in the kindergarten corridor; collapsing into pools of snot and tears just outside of the doorways. I kept a stiff upper lip and pushed their limp bodies aside as I took my girls to the more "dignified" end of the hallway to second grade. Not really, by second grade we've just learned to wear huge sunglasses and wait until we are safely back in the car before we have our breakdown.
This morning, the differences in my girls were very apparent. My 4th grader, while she still wants me to walk her to class, under the guise of being her Clorox wipe and paper towel pack mule, gives me a hug and dismisses me...in front of everyone. She has always been the stiff upper lip kid, since preschool. She'll get watery eyes and a bit of a lip quiver (not now but back then) and then she will give me that hug, you know the one that needs to last both of you the entire day, and then she will send you off. Even if she wants to run off after you crying for you to take her home, she will not make waves. She will make do. She gets that from me. I call it oldest child syndrome. It's awesome, except for when I wish she'd just let go and not stiff upper lip it. I'm her mom. That's my job. Her job is to be a kid and to be happy.
My 2nd grader however, well, she is a rage against the night, do not go gently, make waves, cry and freak out type. She knows how to make a mama feel needed but she is also my high maintenance, squeaky wheel. This morning, she tried a bit of stiff upper lip on for size. I don't think it suited her because just before I walked her into her class, she said her stomach hurt. This is her go to ailment whenever she is afraid of something new. While I was unloading her supplies ( hello, pack mule) I asked the teacher ( the same one the 4th grader had two years earlier; the one both girls adore) where to put the supplies. When he answered that the kids were supposed to read the board and follow the directions, I saw the panic strike. She reads but she's not a great reader yet and there were a lot of unrecognizable words on that board so I explained the instructions to her and helped her to put her little heart at ease.
It was time to leave. I could feel her willing me to stay. I could feel my heart being tugged back in her direction. I hugged her and she reciprocated tightly. I assured her that she would be fine and that it was going to be an awesome first day; all while willing those damn watery eyes of my own to stay behind the sunglasses and not reveal themselves to my girl. She gave me a big kiss and whispered, "Mommy, I'm scared!" I looked her in the eye and told her that there was nothing to be afraid of and that I was only a phone call away and more importantly, that I loved her. That seemed to put her at ease and then I left, as she stared a hole into the back of my head; turning back to catch one last unsure smile. Then I walked out of the room.
2 minutes later, I walked back to the doorway to see if she was okay. She was sharpening pencils when she caught a glimpse of me. She ran to me and gave me a kiss and told me she loved me. This time much more enthusiastically. I told her, "See, if you need me, I'm only a phone call away!" And she smiled and dismissed me.
My girls, they are different but they are the same. They are awesome and amazing and no matter how big they get, the letting go always hurts, especially if I'm the one who has to let go first.