Friday, August 17, 2012

School Starts

Last week my boys started school.  Caleb waltzed into 2nd grade no problem whatsoever, but Joel was pretty terrified.  Though he was all grins and giggles at our celebratory Dutch Monkey Donuts breakfast, he clammed up completely the second we pulled into the school parking lot.  I don't think he said a single word when we took him to his class and gave him goodbye hugs.  He was shaking in his shoes.  I was already emotional about taking him to kindergarten, but when I saw his fear, my heart just melted.  I had to exit the room quickly, so he wouldn't see my tears, but just outside his door, I started bawling.  Bryan and I walked into the school auditorium where I cried like a baby on his shoulder.  I struggled to pull myself together, and all day the tears would rise up and spill over.  I was that crazy crying mom on the first day of school.

When I picked Joel up, he was all smiles and pretended he didn't want to talk about his day, but really he was itching to tell me about it.  Since then getting my boys to tell me about their days is like pulling teeth, but that day he clearly wanted to talk about it.  He had a great day and so did Caleb.  And now Joel does beautifully at dropoff; he didn't even think to give me a hug when I dropped him off on his second day.  He just bounded in right next to Caleb.  It is so sweet to see them walking in together.  They sit by each other at lunch each day, which I find irresistibly adorable.

As I was leaving school on the first day, I kept thinking about the well of grief in me, just how sad I felt about leaving my second born at his first day of school.  When Samuel was alive, I remember swearing off tears about routine shots and the stuff our healthy kids go through.  I was determined to rejoice in them -- in the fact that my child was healthy enough to get the shot or meet the milestone.  I never thought I'd be dry-eyed about my kids starting kindergarten, but I also didn't expect such sorrow.  I do rejoice in their health, in how they are well enough to attend school, in how I get to homeschool them half of the week, in how they are growing into these amazing kids of whom I'm so proud; there is much in which to rejoice.  And I do.  But I think my loss of Samuel informs how I feel about these milestones of childhood.  Knowing what it is to miss every single milestone, I cling to the ones my healthy children face.  I feel the steady rhythm of time, ticking away beneath me, the days already gone and the present ever-changing, my children always growing.  Time is fleeting by nature;  there is not a thing I can do to slow it down.  Samuel's death in many ways intensifies my desire to savor these early years with my children.  I won't get them back.  Knowing I won't ever take Samuel to his first day of kindergarten, I find myself grasping on to the now and wanting to make the most of it.  Though I've held true to my refusal to lament the routine shots and heel pricks and common colds, I do grieve when my kids keep growing up, though of course it's the very thing I want for them.  It's a paradox, I suppose: wanting them to be well enough to grow up and yet resenting that they continue to grow.

Now, a week in to the school year, it's been pretty easy to send the boys to school, and they are happy to go.  I find that the homeschool days make the school days easier.  And I have loved my days with just Anna Pea.  We go to the grocery store or walk the greenway, and I get some much appreciated time to myself during her morning nap.  As an introvert, it fuels me.  I think it's going to be a great school year, and there is something simply beautiful about the new bond of going to school together that my boys share.  I love all the ties that bind those boys together.

My kindergartener

My 2nd grader

Huge donuts to celebrate the start of the school year
Watching donut-making magic

My fabulous school boys at their favorite breakfast spot

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