It didn't go so well that morning. For all my worry and over-preparedness, and stomach knots it still didn't go the way I had hoped. It snowed and I had too many babies and things to carry and not enough arms and we were too early and the girl child had to potty and they both screamed when they left my arms. There was also the matter of peanut products, which apparently aren't allowed but because we were unaware, my child had a lovely PB&J in her backpack- crust neatly removed. (Although they assured me that it would be okay this time). And I must admit, I rushed. I had somewhere to be and I knew that the best way to make it easy for my kiddos would be for me to make a hasty retreat. So after their tears began to fall, but before mine could flood my face, I told them to have fun, and quickly made my way to the car.
Then there I sit, in a train-themed dentist's waiting room with a train buzzing around my head. I clutch my phone because I just know that any minute the teachers will be calling to inform me that my child has been screaming for twenty minutes or I forgot to leave enough diapers or the peanut butter has in fact caused another child to go into aniphalactic shock and they would like for us to leave and never return.
Nearly an hour since I left them screaming in their classrooms I think, surely by now their little hearts have quieted and they have found a way to have fun. I keep reminding myself that I want to raise intelligent, well-socialized, kind, patient, loving children. And the best way for them to learn these qualities is to have opportunities to apply them.
I return home to a silent house and realize that this... this moment where I am disheveled and worried... this is the first time that I have ever been alone in this house. But I glance at the clock and realize that any minute, my babies will be going down for their first nap in a strange place and who will sing to them? Who will hand him his bear? Who will brush the hair from her forehead and pray over her before she sweetly sings herself to sleep? Standing there in my sundrenched living room, I finally release what I held together in the hallways of the school and the waiting room and the dental chair and I... cry. It's ridiculous, the tears that spill from my face. I pray. For myself and their teachers, but also for their little hearts. That they would be quieted and calmed and soothed and find rest. It lasts only a minute or two, but the release is cathartic and as I find my feet again, I feel entirely embarrassed. Only three hours have passed since I left my children in the care of well-qualified teachers.
Simultaneously, I realize I have a mere two hours left before I am to return to retrieve them and my heart begins to pound. How can something feel like a race and an eternity all at the same time? I force myself to rest. I leave the mess. I tell myself that just this once, I need to just listen to what my body is telling me to do. Rest... but I am awakened by the pounding of my own heart every few minutes and all too soon, my alarm is telling me hurry hurry hurry... they need you. So I pull my weary, aching head from the couch and reach for my keys. Rush... they're waiting!
I make the quick drive to their small school and as I pull into the parking lot, I brace myself to wipe hot tears off of red cheeks and soothe tiny heaving bodies as they cling to my chest. I breathe deeply and walk into the hallway, bustling with other moms and dads picking up their children.
Many steps before I reach his classroom, I hear him. Loud shouts and squeals. Babbles and coos. He's always had quite a volume. But he isn't unhappy. In fact, as I approach the door to his classroom, I see him excitedly chatting up a bouncy seat and swatting at the toys. No tears. Not even a frown. He sees my face and his eyes light up. He smiles his entirely too large, drooly, toothy grin, and quickly crawls toward me. As his teacher places him in my arms, he bounces and laughs and babbles as if telling me all about his first day. She tells me he had a wonderful time, and that he loves his teddy bear. I also learn that he has used a fork for the first time!
We make our way to the girl child's classroom and despite my worry that I'd find her in a corner being comforted by her teacher, she is engrossed in play with another little girl. So engrossed, in fact, that she doesn't see me even after I call her name a few times. So instead, I watch her. She is so naturally social. She loves people so much. And in this place she seems truly... happy. I call her name again Birdy... and she looks toward me. I found Momma! she squeals, running to me with her arms stretched upward. She colored a picture. She had a snack. She took a nap. She tells me all in one breath and as I crouch to hug her, still balancing her baby brother on my hip, she says, I cry at school but now I so essited! I not scared anymore! And again I choke back the tears. Happy ones this time. It seems so silly now to have ever been worried.
We celebrate with cookies. She eats two. And as she tells me over and over how she's not scared anymore, I decide I need to follow her lead. I start by having a second cookie. And then I resolve that next week I will not be scared.