Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Kindergarten Eve.

I was a total mess this past weekend. It was supposed to be the last blast of summer vacation for our family - we had plans to do all kinds of fun things together, and instead I spent it grumping around being mad at anyone and everyone who dared cross my path.

I don't think I was a lot of fun to be around.

At the start of the long weekend, I had convinced myself that Inara was definitely NOT ready to go to kindergarten because she hadn't gotten a haircut. What kind of mother was I, to have not thought about this earlier? Only THE WORST MOTHER IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD EVER. Of course.

Stricken by panic, I started calling hairdressers in the area. All but one of the places laughed at me. At the last place, a kind lady took pity on me and offered me an appointment...for next Saturday.

I cried, and then I took it. It's not so bad, I told myself. Maybe I'll take pictures of her after the appointment, and tell everyone that they were taken on the first day of school...

...because that's what crazy people tell themselves when they are caught in the tailspin of emotions leading up to KINDERGARTEN.

I think that I've purposefully left this many things to the last minute because I am still in complete and utter denial about the whole ordeal. It's the same reason I hauled the girls all over town this morning to find new shoes for Inara. I just couldn't stand to think about it until I was forced to. And I WAS forced to, when yesterday Inara put on her old sneakers and I noticed that the tread on the bottom was completely worn out. What kind of mother doesn't notice these things until the day before school starts?

Only the kind who is sabotaging herself emotionally because she doesn't want to let go of her baby.

I feel as if I'm getting ready for birthing another baby, I'm restless and pacing and nesting - but it's all bass ackwards. I'm preparing for someone leaving instead of coming, and I'm steadying myself for a flood of tears - and not the happy kind. I so badly want school to be a good experience for her, I want her to realize school for the gift that it is...and I'm so scared to think about what will happen if anything goes wrong.

I've done a very good job of keeping the nasties away from Inara, for fear of tainting her newly-emerging excitement...but they're not gone away completely. Instead, all my anxiety is coming out in the form of shoes and haircuts and lunch menus and rain boots (she doesn't even have RAIN BOOTS, people. It's like I'm going to send her to school in rags à la Oliver Twist. And then she'll be cold and hungry and end up falling in with the wrong crowd and they'll keep her warm and fed but only if she does their evil bidding. All because I didn't get her new rain boots. Stop laughing. It could totally happen.)

We have a gigantic calendar in our kitchen - I've written about it before, and every month I take it down to make a new one with the girls. Well, it's the day before kindergarten and our calendar still says August. I just can't bear making a September calendar and then having "Inara's First Day of School also known as THE DAY SHE WILL LEAVE YOU" printed on it and circled three times for emphasis. I just can't do it.

So now when Inara goes, "Mama, what day is today? I can't tell because the calendar is completely wrong."

I cheerfully reply with, "It's not wrong. It's actually August 37th today. See, I've written it at the bottom of the calendar. It's not wrong AT ALL."

And then then everyone in the house rolls their eyes at me and I pretend not to notice. BUT I TOTALLY DO NOTICE IT, PEOPLE. And guess what? I could CARE LESS.

(This is something crazy people tell themselves all the time. Or so I've heard.)

Inara is totally stoked about school. She's excited, she's looking forward to it, and she wants to go. I am so thrilled to hear this from her, and what a change it is from this time last year. On Friday, we had a family conference with Inara's kindergarten teacher (standard issue at her school) to familiarize all of us with each other. Later, Inara said that it was the best part of her day, and that she didn't want to leave at all.

It was music to my ears, and yet my heart couldn't help but break just a little bit.

This morning, on our way back from trying on every shoe in every shoe store from here to the Canadian border, I told Inara how I felt. "I'm not sure what Nissa and I will do when you're at school, kiddo. I think we're going to miss you an awful lot."

She thought about this for a few moments, dog-earing the book she was reading and setting it aside (it was about the Titanic, her latest obsession...so kindergarten appropriate, yes?), and she gave the question her full attention.

"Mama," she said seriously. "If I think about things for you and Issie to do when I'm at school, maybe it will help you not miss me so much. And then we'll both have lots of things to talk about when we see each other again. Because I'm big now, and I just have to be in kindergarten, even if we're both nervous about it. Maybe our feelings will change. We just have to give it a chance. Hey, look! The leaves are falling off the trees already! Does that mean it's autumn?"

I pulled the van over onto a side street because I was "having a moment" (as my family now likes to say about me. Often.). I put down all the windows and stuck my head outside, inhaling the cool fresh air and letting it wash over the fat tears that fell silently from my eyes and plopped down to the road below. I sighed as I realized what was happening, and pulled my head back into the van.

Sitting under the big oak tree, we watched the leaves swirl around us. The wind made a hushing sound as it rustled the leaves, in calm, soothing tones.

"Do you think that it sounds like the wind is whispering something?" I asked the girls, twisting in my seat to look behind me.

"Maybe..." Inara replied, turning back to her book.

"Go back home NOW, Mama! Go!" came the helpful response from Nissa, who was facing backward and confused about this sudden change of pace.

I started the van back up again, but before I pulled away from the tree I paused one last time, to listen. The world seemed like a much less complicated place under the shelter of that big tree. But as we drove off, I heard my own voice echoing the voice of the wind and the world as it pushed us all along into tomorrow and the huge milestone we faced.

She is so ready for this it whispered, in my ear, in my mind, across my heart...and I knew that it was true.

She is so ready for this.

And so...I will be ready for it too. Even if breaks my heart, just a little bit.

In case you missed it yesterday, my other gig at And Nobody Told Me is coming to an end. My last post was yesterday, and I hope you will have a chance to read it. The blog will not be publishing any more regular material, but we are leaving the content up in the hopes that it will benefit anyone who happens to come across it. I've enjoyed my time at ANTM immensely, and will always treasure the wonderful friendships I've made with all of the incredible and talented women there. xoxoxmahreen
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