Warning: This blog does not contain a single iota of original emotion. I will be repeating, albeit in my own words, what every mom has ever felt since the dawn of mandatory school attendance. In fact, I have no doubt that mommy-bloggers around the world have probably posted their “First Day of School” blogs already (I’m a bit slow on the take and needed to chat on the phone with a very supportive neighbor for 2 hours before I sat down to begin blogging about it). Oh well. I’m still going to join the masses and share my thoughts and emotions about The First Day of School for my Baby.
Today was Baby Girl’s first day of school. Real school. All-day, every-other day school. I cried. She didn’t. I didn’t cry in front of her, although when she hugged me and told me “I’ll miss you mommy!” it was one of my better accomplishments that she didn’t SEE me crying. She was already nervous, she told me at breakfast, although she was beyond brave marching her little self and a backpack almost bigger than her, across the school yard. Or maybe she was just embarrassed and trying to distance herself from her mom, who seemed to be the only mom filming the walk from the car to the school door, for some reason.
So, now that I have managed to drive myself home while crying my eyes out (thank goodness I at least had the forethought to wear waterproof mascara this morning) and cry into my coffee until the dash of Bailey’s I added for cream kicked in, I am feeling pensive as to WHY I am so upset. I mean really – why would a stay-at-home mom want to cry about suddenly having 2 or 3 FULL days a week to themselves? Why doesn’t the thought of paying for groceries that only I put in the buggy not make me want to skip and jump and sing that Smurf’s “La la, la la la la” song?
Well, the obvious answer is the loss of time with her, especially in light of the fact that I got ripped off from spending the first 18 months of her life together with her. That being said, plenty of bio moms also cry on the first day of school, so it can’t be that reason alone that provokes my tears. I will miss her, because she’s company and pretty smart and funny company, at that. Did I mention last week when she told me “You’re the BEST mommy!” and I told her “You’re the BEST daughter!” she responded with a brush-off wave of her hand and said “Don’t mention it!”? I’m sure however, I will get used to (quickly) the ability to shop for personal female items without hearing in a loud stage whisper for half of Walmart to hear: “See mommy! I’m NOT asking this time in PUBLIC what those STICKS are for! We can talk about LADY STICKS in PRIVATE when we get home, right?”. I’m also sure I will enjoy being able to cook something more than chicken fingers without having a knee-sized sous-chef tugging on (or off, as it so happened once) my pants to help. I may even be able to adjust to having more than a 5 minute phone conversation without the imminent “MOMMMEEEE!!!!” background musical accompaniment. Despite all of these “Kids Say the Darndest Things” moments, I am lonely without her.
I do worry about her. That, I am confident, is also any mother’s instinct, whether it be a bio or adoptive or step mom. I don’t worry that she won’t learn. She is a genius, if I do say so myself, and Hoover’s up knowledge. No, I worry that she will sass her teacher like she does me, or will eventually feel comfortable enough with the teacher to start exercising her need to be the boss of the universe. I worry she will be a “disciplinary case”. Am I an awful mom for worrying about that? Probably. But that doesn’t stop me from doing it. She is a great kid and NEVER misbehaved at pre-school. EVER. That I heard about, at least. But maybe Big Girl School is different and she will be different. Who knows?
I worry she will get teased or bullied, despite all of my regular coaching sessions on how she can and should deal with that if it happens. Because really, all of MY best comebacks enter my head AFTER someone’s rude or sarcastic pot shot has already been taken and I’ve left the situation, so no doubt the same will happen for her. Only the kids and adults in sitcoms and movies say all the right lines at exactly the right times.
I worry kids will tease her for wearing glasses. Or for having white parents. Yep. I just said that. Kids are mean. Thankfully I live in a racially mixed neighborhood where biracial couples are common, however there are no black kids with two white parents and no white kids with two black parents. Haven’t seen ANY of those families around our town. So, I worry kids will tease her about that because her family looks “different” from everyone else’s, and that’s what bullies prey on – “different”. Even if they don’t tease her for it, at some point, some kid is going to ask her why her parents are white, and my heart aches for her that she will have to explain that. We have raised her and will continue to raise her to be proud of her adoption into our family, but our efforts don’t always succeed. She feels sad because her parents don’t “match” her in appearance and nothing we say or do can make that better for her. Heaven help the first mini-bully who says something to make her feel worse about that.
I worry because at the back of her mind, in a tiny little cave that she usually keeps a big rock in front of, I know there is hidden in the dark corner of that cave a little fear that each day I drop her off at school, I may not come back for her. That is her adoption legacy. Children who have been adopted, even those who were adopted the minute they were born, have a sense of loss hard-wired into their tiny, precious little brains. It’s a scientific fact that breaks my heart EVERY time I must leave her ANYwhere – even with my own parents. If I could do ANYTHING to remove that moment of fear/panic/insecurity from her psychology, I would do it. I really would. So part of me hates school (even more than I have always disliked school myself) because it forces my Baby to confront certain aspects of herself and her family that she would most likely prefer to leave in the recesses of her subconscious.
I cried because she is my baby and my oldest all rolled into one. Today was my first “First Day of School” but also my last. I have no other children younger than her and unless her birth mother has another child that becomes available for adoption at some point, I never will have any other children starting school. This might seem like a positive aspect, that I only have to experience this heartache once, but somehow it just makes me feel sad. That I only get to do this once. My stepson had already started SK when I met him, so I wasn’t a part of his experience. Nothing prepared me for the lump in my throat that appeared when I got out of the car, yet nothing prepared me for feeling disappointed that it was all over and done with so quickly as I walked back to my car crying.
It’s evening now, and I’ve also experienced the rush of excitement listening to her tell me about her day, her new friends, the fun she had painting and how she didn’t think of me all day and didn’t really miss me “that much” and how she wants to go to school every day (oh, how soon that will change, I’m sure!). I was glad. I didn’t want her to miss me. I spent my day pining for her, worrying for her, hoping for her. It is the dawn of a new era in my home. It is the beginning of mommy learning to let go and release my most precious angel to be influenced and hopefully cared for and taught valuable things by people other than mommy. I think I cried for myself, for the loss of control, for the loss of influence, for the in-your-face realization that my Baby is no longer a baby. Always MY baby, but definitely no longer a baby.