Pretty much if you can name an emotion, I’m feeling it right now as we approach the first day of Kindergarten.
I’m so excited to see Molly go to kindergarten. I know in my gut it is going to be so good for her. I trust that she is going to fall in love with school just like her brother. I can’t wait to watch her make friends and try new things. I get giddy just thinking about her running out of school bursting to tell me the newest thing she tried or experienced.
I’m so proud of Mo. She has gone through so much over the last few years. But she is so kind, so sweet, and so bright. She didn’t let the trauma put her fire out either and I love that about her. I know she is ready for this.
I don’t know if there’s any amount of excitement or pride that could keep me from being anxious though. I’m so anxious about how the first drop off will go and then what the transition over the next two weeks will look like. I’m worried about what she will be feeling and thinking and my anxiety convinces me I just want to fix and protect her from it all. In reality though I know she has so many coping skills to fall back on. I know she has all the tools she needs to be successful. I even know I don’t actually want to shield her from every uncomfortability. Instead I want to help walk through it all with her and continue to support her as she experiences life and grows. But holding onto that thought when thoughts about her melting down on the front lawn of school are also swirling is really hard.
I’m so sad thinking about this chapter of our lives kind of wrapping up. I’ve been a stay at home mom for a decade. I have spent almost every single day for the last ten years with at least one of my children home with me and in my care. My time, attention, priorities, etc. were the child(ren) in front of me. Being a stay at home mom was the biggest piece of my identity. And now it’ll just be me at home (and Lulu). I cherish the time I had with them and know it was best for our family. It is so weird to see it coming to an end.
As sad as I am though I am also really excited about the next chapter. I’m excited to pour myself into work that feels good. I’m looking forward to prioritizing myself, my health, my well-being, my care. I want to build something that I’m proud of and that brings me joy and fills me with pride. And I can’t wait to see how doing that elevates the relationships I have with my kids and family. I am invigorated at the thought of us each going out into the world, living into our biggest and fullest lives, then coming home to share all about them and regroup together. It feels like we have such an opportunity to celebrate each other, our individualism, our own experiences, but also our collectivism as a family and the way we support one another. I know it’s just kindergarten but on some level this feels like practice for when they get older and experience even more on their own. I don’t know. It’s an exciting (even if terrifying) thought to me.
I’m also noticing some anger. Anger at cancer mostly. This summer was so good. We had so many adventures. Our trips were great. The kids are just at such fun ages. But I also can’t help but think about the summers/years we missed out on making memories like this. There’s just kind of an asterisk or dark cloud hanging out in the background right now.
I think milestones just hit different with Molly. Knowing what she went through and what she overcame just adds a level of gratitude and awe and sometimes even nostalgia almost. I can’t help but think back on it all. Then when you realize she beat cancer and is now functioning as every other 5 year old gearing up for kindergarten…it’s just a lot. It makes me so emotional. The heaviness but also the joy butting up against each other just adds to the complexity of it all.
I have been trying to show Molly how I pay attention to my body, identify feelings, and then listen to them. We practiced together earlier today. Her tummy hurt. She said it felt tight and showed me that by making a fist on her belly. Then we talked about why her tummy might feel that way. She said she was feeling nervous and scared about school. So then we validated that. Of course she is nervous. This is brand new. I would be nervous too (and was every single year on the first day of school- even as a teacher). Then we talked about what was making her nervous. She’s never done this before. She will be away from me. She doesn’t really know the other kids or her teacher. All very normal and appropriate worries. I really wanted to immediately combat all of them and try to make her feel better about each one. Instead I just let them be and told her over and over again that she was allowed to be nervous. And now I’m realizing that’s exactly the advice I need to take for myself this week. I’m having a lot of feelings. I feel them in so many places in my body and I’ve identified what many of them are. I can articulate the reasons for most of them pretty well. But now my next move is usually to talk myself out of them or past them without letting them move as they need. Or I’m more willing to sit with the “easier” ones or even the ones that have a clearer reason or the ones that have a timeline. I think instead my goal for this week has to be to acknowledge there’s a lot going on. My feelings are big and a lot and that’s expected and normal and ok. And now instead of telling myself I did the work and therefore my feelings are done, I’m going to let them continue to run their course.
I know I can’t just sit in or get stuck in the heaviness of it all, but I also don’t want to rush past it. This week I have something that I haven’t had in the last decade. I have time to myself. I have time to check in with myself. I have time to reset and recalibrate. I have time to take the walk or hop in the shower. I have time to journal. I have time to feel it all. I promised myself I would make the most of this next chapter and that I would lean into all the things I’ve learned in therapy and about myself. This reality has felt so far away for so long and then even when it got closer it was clouded by everyday life and meltdowns and parenting. But now it is here. This is where the work gets to meet the action and be supported by it and vice versa. And that brings up feelings too. Excitement, nervousness, fear, joy, pride, overwhelm, anticipation…It’s just a really big time for me and I don’t want to downplay that to myself or make myself feel like I just have to take it in stride and move past it.
So many of you have followed Molly’s journey and supported her through the years. Thank you for all the good vibes. She rocked her first day drop off! (And big brother did too!)
With so much love and gratitude,