Okay~ so summer is coming to a close and kids are going to school all over the country~ some going to school for the very first time.....and some moving off to college.....and *everything* in between.
I've noticed in the bible according to Facebook that this has triggered a 'where did the time go' nostalgia and endless pictures of clean kids holding brand new backpacks~ most looking some kind of combination of fake smile and sheer terror. Now, I'm not sure why~ but here at the AGC my kids living at home don't go back to school until tomorrow.......so I'm late to the 'post the pics of your kids on the first day of school' party. Never fear~ I will post them too.
It just so happens that I have a daughter who is starting Kindergarten tomorrow~ and we ALL know that's a pretty BIG deal.
It also happens that the wonder boy will begin 3rd grade tomorrow. He looks less and less like a boy every day.
It also happens that I have a son who will never, ever have the chance to go to school.
It also happens that I have a daughter~ who despite being a divorced single mother ~ working her ass off to provide a life for my grandson~ a couple of weeks ago started school to earn a degree that will help her to do just that.
It also happens that I have a daughter who is navigating being a Navy wife~ who just recently watched her husband sail away on a very large ship~ knowing she'll not see him for 9 long months~ and SHE starts school as the TEACHER of the class going on 5 years now.
When I look at my life as a whole~ I sometimes feel like I have lived 3 almost entirely separate lives. Often when I think of an event or a place in time I'm known to say "gods that feels a *lifetime* ago".....and I really MEAN it!
So I experience my own 'time flies' sensation........once in a while......but I know it is not nearly as often as other folks do..........
My baby~ the youngest anyway as she is no longer a baby~ starts kindergarten tomorrow. This will be the very last time I send one of my own children off to Kindergarten..........and YES it is a BIG DEAL~ but in so very many, many ways~ it's a *big* deal for different reasons than it was for my other 3 children. And I suspect that it is also big deal for reasons only a select few moms have also experienced.
Over the last few weeks I've been asked literally hundreds of times "can you believe she's 5 and going off to Kindergarten?" or some variation of that question. Now~ as any good mother does I said "gosh, I know right?" and then the follow up statement from the question asker: "Man that went by so fast"......and HERE is where I pause~ and HERE is where the big deal difference is........
because it really *did not* go by fast~ or at least for me it really didn't. You see the last 5 years (more like 7 really) have been some of the MOST challenging of my life. And believe me when I say: THAT'S saying something.
Although there were times when I felt time flying by~ last summer for instance~ my first summer not working in a long, long time~ last summer went by fast.........but when I reflect upon my youngest being 5 and starting school~ I really do NOT feel like time has flown. In fact upon reflection~ I feel quite the opposite~like there were more days than not that time actually seemed to slow down.
In my heart of hearts I *know* that I feel this way because there were SO MANY moments that turned into days and in some cases days that turned into weeks and months~ that I really was not sure I would survive.
There were lots of days when the heartbreak was so paralyzing that I could literally HEAR the seconds ticking in my head~ and I remember wishing and praying and begging the universe for those days to just be OVER......and yet they seemed to last forever.
There were lots of days that I woke up after 2 or 3 hours of fitful sleep~ auto piloted my way through some crazy combination of mothering, working and just barely surviving........and on those days I often found myself looking at the clock thinking: gods can it really only be (whatever) o'clock? I'm not sure I can make it (how every many) more hours I need to survive before I can try to sleep again. Only to wake up the next day and do it ALLLLLLLL over again.
Ironically~ the last 7 years have also held some of my most incredible triumphs~ some of my proudest moments~ some days when I found that I was stronger than I ever thought I could be~ some of the VERY best days of my life............and yet even those were in some ways clouded over by a shadow cast by a very tiny boy.........for even the smallest of children can cast a very large shadow.
But *that* boy and his impact are also a huge part of the reason that I *have* a daughter to send off to Kindergarten tomorrow rather than another tiny urn filled with ashes and a mother's broken dreams and shattered soul.
*that* boy is a large part of the reason I am able~ even on autopilot days when I'm not sure how I'm going to make it to bedtime~ to find something to be grateful for.
*that* boy is a big part of the reason that I cherish every. single. amazingly wonderful. moment. in ALL of my children's and grandson's accomplishments.
*that* boy is a big part of the reason that I have learned AGAIN (for I always *knew* it~ but forgot for a while) to REALLY LIVE~ to love~ to find joy~ to find peace EVERY day~~~ because none of us is promised even another moment in time~ much less a day.
I've spent (what some would say were far too) many days in the last years reliving the grief and soul crushing pain caused by the death of my son. But having spent the last year telling his story~ bringing the sadness and the pain and the anguish out into the light~ and learning to deal with it better~ I'd say I am exactly where *I* need to BE in the process right now~ and I always *have BEEN*.
So as my daughter goes off to Kindergarten tomorrow~ there will be pictures, there will be tears (but not of sadness), there will be some nostalgia I am sure.
But there will not be a feeling of "I can't believe it's time for this already"......because from the very moment it was decided that we would try for another baby~~~~ right up to today~~~~~ precious little of her life came easily. We had to fight for every. single. step. and it's been a LONG 5.75 years.
So as she boards the bus bravely holding her brother's hand~ I will not be crying and thinking "where has five years gone"......
I will be crying and thinking "YOU GO wee tiny princess! GO and conquer your first day of Kindergarten the way you have conquered everything ELSE they said you would never do! You GO and make your mark on your brand new school the way you've made your mark on every person who knows your story!"
I will also be crying and thinking "thank you William~ thank you for giving me the strength to fight for her".
I will also be shamelessly proud of MYSELF for having never given up on her, for having fought for her, for having raised this miracle child to the very best of my ability~ DAMN that was a hard 5.75 years!
I will also be thinking "TAKE THAT DR. FUCKFACE~ YOU. WERE. WRONG. As I said to you in the teeny tiny hospital room on a dark night in March of 2008~ when you said there was no hope: WRONG~ there is ALWAYS room for hope~ and that girl getting on the bus right now is LIVING AND AMAZING PROOF!"