It’s 2 p.m. and I’m sitting on my back porch. That’s right, I said sitting. It’s one of those days I’ve decided to let the dishes pile up and use the ever sacred nap hour as a time to reflect.
Today I am intertwined in a strange tapestry of emotions. I am neither probing them nor stifling them. I want to breathe them in with the stagnant August air and ponder what my heart is trying to communicate.
This morning I dropped my baby off at her new ‘school’ for kindergarten. It’s a lovely little local church that provides daycare and preschool. As of this past month with everything going on, they have formed a small kindergarten class. Like the majority of all adults with school-aged children, this past month has involved lots of scrambling and making decisions regarding school that look a lot different than they did six months ago.
I felt unsettled after dropping her off, and I couldn’t help but ask myself, ‘Why’?! Here in this moment on this porch, I realize why: Grief.
There’s this letting go of what I thought the first day of kindergarten for my baby girl would look like. These plans we inadvertently make in our hearts for years before the momentous occasion even takes place. We dream of our wedding day, we dream of the day we bring children into the world. These special moments are so fleeting, but they become precious memories that become part of who we are. We hold them fondly in our hearts, and visit them as we walk down memory lane; maybe at the dining room table or on a rocking chair on an old front porch.
We have a sweet local school right up the road where people walk their children into the classroom long past the first day; it becomes a tradition of sorts to stroll the halls of the long corridor of classrooms and wave, even chat with, other parents who are current friends, old friends, or perhaps even your neighbor. It’s a school that reminds you of home, or maybe some semblance of what it was like in the 1950s. A school tucked away in a little neighborhood with lots of involved parents and dedicated teachers.
This past February, just mere days before the proverbial bottom was pulled out from under the world, we attended orientation for kindergarten for the coming fall. There was this confidence that I felt in her that she was ready for big girl school. Yet at the same time, assurance that I had about six more months of her being in preschool- still very much a baby by my standards! I knew that the first day of kindergarten would involve an emotional sting and quite possibly some tears.
You couldn’t have told me that brisk February day I’d be sitting here adjusting my budget for another year of paying for preschool. I would have laughed if you told me then I’d be touring private schools, and considering holding my child back a year would not have been an option.
While I’m so grateful for this opportunity and grateful we are healthy, my heart mourns what this virus has taken away. The wedding days, and birthdays. The family gatherings and the first day of school; the movie theater, and the hugs.
I refuse to believe this is my children’s ‘new normal.’ I also refuse to let this pandemic take away my hope. I refuse to spend days wondering what the next day, year, or years will look like. These memories will be unique ones; ones that stretched us and taught us Americans A. LOT.
My hope today is this: A couple of years from now if my neighbor is reading this, I’ll see you walking down the halls of our sweet elementary school without a mask.