Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The End... The Beginning

... So, it's like this.

I've put off and put off mentioning this, but yesterday was August 26th, which was essentially doomsday.

Abigail started Kindergarten.

My heart is kind of broken. Not the soul-wrenching, despairing kind of broken, but the kind of heartbroken that happens while you're watching your best friend walk down the aisle to marry her best friend. Or as you watch a snuggly baby take those first tottering, uncertain steps. You're so happy for them. You're so sorry for yourself. They'll be so, so happy, but they'll never be the same; BFF will be a wife, and baby will never want to snuggle the way he did before he gained the independence of walking.

The past three years have been glorious. A good-sized chunk of my life revolved around making sure Abigail had everything she needed to grow, learn, be happy. To making sure that every day, she knew she was loved. I had so. much. fun. As long as I live, unless I am blessed enough to have my own kids someday, I'm sure I will never be as happy as I have been these past three years. And while I know that I'll still get to see her every morning, I'm just terribly sad about the fact that someone else "gets" her for the majority of every day.

I've been AWOL as a blogger lately, and that totally has everything to do with the fact that I made a conscious decision to be present, to be wholeheartedly there, for these last, few, precious days. We did lots of good stuff. Snuggled on the couch. Read books. Laughed. Blew bubbles. Talked about life. Trying to cram in as much as I could, because, let's face it, in another five years she probably won't remember this last glorious summer we spent together.

So, first day of school.

Her daddy took her yesterday, and managed to brush her hair and snap a first-day picture. :) I woke up at 8:20 as though someone had slapped me, and said a quick prayer for my her, knowing she was either being dropped off or about to be. I texted Chris, and he said she did fine, but that he was a mess, which sounded much better than the alternative. I figured the drop-off would have been the hardest point, and that if she had gotten to her classroom without tears, the worst was over. So I went back to sleep.

I woke up some time later, and I had a voicemail message from someone I know who also has a daughter in Abigail's class. She sounded kind of excited, asked me to call her right away, didn't give any details. I sometimes babysit for her, so I figured I'd call her back once I'd had coffee and could form coherent sentences. But apparently she got tired of waiting, because the next thing I saw was a text message.

Abby looked absolutely terrified when I dropped M off at school. Hope she'll be okay.

My heart stopped.

I think everyone has that thing they worry about the most. Chris overpacked her lunch today because, he said, he never, ever wanted her to be hungry. Natalie worries that she won't be able to handle the big bathroom door. Me? I don't ever want her to be afraid. Don't ever want her to be scared and alone. The thought of my baby girl feeling scared, with no one she really knew, broke my heart.

I sat down and had a good cry, consoled myself with the fact that pickup was less than an hour away (it was a first day half day), and went over to the house to see Maggie, who at once commiserated with me, and also reminded me that Abigail hates crowds and that even if she was unhappy in the hubbub of the first day, as soon as everyone got settled at their desks, she'd be fine. All true. (She also helped stoke my indignant, righteous anger that somebody would text me that way when there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.)

I texted again after I knew she'd been picked up, fearing the worst, but Natalie reported that she seemed fine, thought kindergarten had a lot of rules, but was otherwise unaffected and had said nothing about being scared or sad.

Today was my turn to drop her off; she was dressed early in her adorable uniform, and I took a few minutes to stage a mini photo-shoot, with a big "K for kindergarten" sign and an apply. This is the kid who rarely smiles in pictures - my favorite shots are usually candid photos taken furtively - but today she beamed, changing poses and quickly running to see each photo.


I walked her up to the school door, and leaned down to give her a final hug and kiss. "I'll give you extra hugs, since I know this is hard for you," she told me compassionately, the tone of her voice implying that she'd done more than her fair share of consoling sodden adults lately, and she hoped we'd all get over it pretty soon. Then she was gone.

I have to keep reminding myself that, even though this feels like "The End," it's really the begining of a new phase, once that involves being the special one who gets the last kiss before she greets the schoolday, special stops on the way to school for donut holes, and sticking love notes and stickers in her lunch box. And that's pretty special, too.

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