It's coming. God, it's coming. The first day of school. I guess I was right about one thing...that first day is going to be hard. What I didn't know was why. The first day of every school year is hard. Now with social media, that day is full of pictures of kids dressed and ready for the day. ALL of their kids. That's the part that burns. It actually causes a physical reaction. My stomach will be in knots and it will feel as if someone is holding a lit match to my chest all day long.
I really wanted to feel the "burden" of buying school supplies for four children this year. I wanted so badly to complain about my empty nest and how time has flown and my baby has grown up. I realize now what a gift that complaint would have been. It used to anger me when people complained about things I no longer had the privilege of experiencing. Time has changed anger to encouragement. I say to those who get to experience the gift of this "last" to complain away! Do it. It's a gift you're being given. I'm not saying I'll receive it well, but that should never deter someone from having their own unique experience. I know the stab and twist of pain associated with the first day of school will come. But that's MY gift. It's my perspective and my experience.
Easton should be entering kindergarten this year. Most mothers who have lost children at a young age will tell you that this particular missed milestone is a big one. We notice the children of those mothers whose bellies were swollen right along with us. We see them with their new haircuts, their backpacks that look too big on their little bodies. We see their hesitancy at leaving mom's side. That burns. It causes such a fire inside that we will wonder if others can actually see the flames. We'll be simultaneously happy for them and crushed for our own missed opportunity.
So, dear teacher, this year you will be one student short. He would have had loose curls and brilliant blue eyes. He likely would have been ornery and I would have to apologize for his sheepish, guilty grin. He probably would have needed some extra help and I probably would have been a permanent fixture in your classroom. He would have been kind and loving. He would have been inclusive and brave. He would have held my hand to the door, but then let go willingly to try something new. He would have been amazing. And I'm sorry that you will not have the opportunity to teach him, because he would have had plenty to teach those around him. Teacher, I will watch your class this year from afar. I won't be signed up to bring in the snacks. I won't volunteer at class parties. And you won't see me at the parent/teacher conference. But I will still feel the ups and downs of your school year. I will watch silently as the five year old babies become 6 year old children. I thank you for your willingness to include me and my son in the ways that you already have. I know this year will get very busy. You'll have plenty to do, and time will fly. But, selfishly, I beg of you not to forget that you are one backpack, one set of gym shoes, one desk short. And that my broken heart will be with you and this very special class of 2028.
Happy first day of kindergarten, my precious boy.