"Mommy, I scared," she quietly says to me.
It was my Maralee, the youngest of our twins, who looked at me with uncertainty in her big blue eyes. I pulled her close, kissed her head, and turned her to look at me."Baby girl, it's okay to be scared. That's why we are going to meet your teacher today before school begins. It will help your new school not feel so big and scary."
I tickle her after I say this and a big grin comes on her face. I let her pick out what outfit she wanted to wear. She chose her blue dress smocked with cows and pigs. "Perfect choice," I affirm her as we slip it on top of her big girl panties. "Mommy, I want to wear my blue shoes, too!" she exclaims. She is warming up to the idea of school.
Downstairs, her sister chooses a purple romper to match her purple flower flip-flops that she has lived in this summer. Purple, always purple for Adeline. I've learned not to fight her on this and she has flourished in purple panties, pajamas, toothbrushes, and hair clips over the summer. Can't blame the girl for knowing what she likes.
We pick up Ganny and head to school. I think we are late but we are actually early, which is something I'm determined to work on as a mother of preschoolers. They can't miss a second!
We pass a hallway decorated with footballs and team spirit and find Mrs. Hollis' door at the end of the hall. She greets the girls on their level and shows them where the toys are in the classroom. We chat and discover she babysat my brother and I one summer when I was four. That's what I love about moving back to our hometown.
Adeline soon found the tu-tu's and she was hooked after that. Maralee recognizes some friends from her old class and soon she is off playing trains with the boys. They're going to be just fine, I thought to myself.
Later that night, my husband and I went to orientation. We sat next to one of his oldest friends. It was all surreal that we were doing this. We ran into more old friends and new ones from church and town. It gave us the "This is right" feeling. Our girls were growing up, and even though many of their friends are new, they aren't really.
The first day of school came two days later. Raleigh helped get the girls dressed and they let him put bows in their hair (such daddy's girls). Maralee was excited, posing for multiple pictures.
But, this time it was Adeline that was sad. Her tummy hurt, reminding us of all the doctor's appointments we've had over the summer. A trip to the ENT and several to the asthma and allergy specialist still hasn't stopped the girls from coughing and has resulted in medicine that causes their tummy to hurt. We remind her to tell her teacher if she has to go potty. She finally smiles when mommy makes a silly face.
Daddy helps Adeline walk in and I hold Maralee's small hand. "Big girls walk to school," I tell them in the car. They nod their "Okay, Mom" nods.
They are ready, I remind myself. We get to Mrs. Hollis' door and try for a picture. The transition from parents to teacher was a little too fast and this was the best we got:
Mrs. Hollis takes our crying girls into the room and Raleigh tells me to go. I follow him outside but keep looking back. I know they are okay but still....
"They're okay," he tells me matter-of-factly. "It's just all the fuss we made with the camera." I shake my head, telling him I understand. We part ways to separate cars. I wait a minute longer, looking back one more time. "They're okay," I tell myself as I start the engine.
Driving off, the radio is playing Steven Curtis Chapman's "Cinderella." Really, Joy FM? Of course, I listen and think of my little girls, how much they've grown and how much more they will continue to grow. I couldn't help but remember how three years ago they were so tiny and fragile. Or, two years ago when they cried as I dropped them off to their first Mother's Morning Out and I couldn't decide if they were really old enough to be away from me just one day of the week. I thought about last year, how I made their first day of school outfits and they looked so growny with their first haircuts and how I had to drop them off on the same day I started work, all while Raleigh was in Montgomery. And, now, here we were with them starting K3. How they only have two more years after this and then 1st grade. Time, it truly does pass in the blink of an eye.
Being a mom, I get scared of time, just like Maralee got scared about the first day of school. I'm scared I'm going to miss something, so I take a million pictures and stay up late to document our lives in this space. I'm scared of our girls always being sick, and us not knowing what the best solution is to make them feel better. I get scared about how the girls are treated as twins, that some kids might never really know the wonderful differences of Adeline and Maralee. I get scared thinking about them possibly not growing up in a neighborhood, and if they will love us or resent us for life in the country. I get scared about a million different things for my children. As their mom, on the first day of school, the only thing I know to do is pray.
I pray that they will find real friends that will play at their house no matter where it is. I pray that they will always be best friends. I pray for the boys that they will date, the men that they might marry, the children that they could have one day. I pray for their teachers and I pray for people to love them individually and as a pair. I pray for their health and for us to keep them safe without living life in a shell. I pray for their gifts - both spiritually and naturally - and that we nurture them as they grow. I pray for these things, and so many others.
The first day of school marks the first day of letting go of fears. It is a day to celebrate, to be proud, to remember how far you've come. It is a day to declare, "You can do this, go and be brave." It's a day to promise that you will be there when it is over, to remind your young one that you will always come.
We went and got ice cream once I picked them up from school. In between eating marshmallows and gummy bears, Maralee told me she played on the playground. Adeline said she sang new songs as she ate her rainbow ice cream (just like Daddy). Gone were their fears and tummy aches.
Question: How was your child's first day of school?
Till next time, let your light shine!