Tuesday, September 02, 2008

First Day

Off and on this summer I had some sleepless nights. I would wake up for no apparent reason and find myself thinking about sending my youngest child to first grade this fall.

I got weepy many nights, unable to shut my brain off, and listening to the voice inside my head berate me for my lack of nurturing and parenting skills. "You didn't snuggle them enough when they were small!" "You spent too much time cleaning the kitchen floor, wiping off the high chair, vacuuming the carpet!" "You didn't appreciate their fat little diapered bottoms, their tiny pink toes, their deep, throaty giggles when you blew raspberries on their tummies!" "You didn't read to them enough." "You didn't sing to them enough." "You wished their babyhood away."And on and on and on.

And really, what that all boils down to is me asking myself, "Did I love them enough?"

How do you answer that? How do you quantify something so ethereal, so abstract, so intangible?

I was awed each time I became a mother. I sat in wonder and astonishment that something so perfectly formed, so tiny and so aware, was mine.

And as they grew I found out so many times that they aren't mine. They are not possessions, they are themselves. Garrett is thoughtful, probing, anxious. Evan is a rough-and-tumble boy with a core that is tenderhearted and nurturing. Spencer is mischief -- a comedian with lightning intellect.

Of course that is not ALL each of them is ... but it is certainly the core of their personalities, characteristics of which were apparent from birth. Some things really never do change.

Today Spencer was up before his dad and I. He got his own breakfast, got dressed, and had made a sandwich for lunch already when he came in to get me up. At 7:15.

When the bus came, each of them stepped confidently aboard. They smiled and waved, and rolled their eyes as I took pictures documenting this day. This day that, to them, was just another first day of school.

And I, wrapped up in the picture taking and the hubbub, didn't have time to cry. It was over before I knew it.

Later, in a house that was still and quiet, I realized that my kids had demonstrated at least some of my parenting had paid off -- they were excited to go to school, they were unafraid of the new year and its challenges, they eagerly stepped into the exciting new world that was waiting for them. They were ready.

And I thought, Yes. I loved them enough. I loved them so much they are up to any challenge. I loved them so much they know they can do anything, and that I will be there to back them up. I loved them so much they never realized that today was also a first for me.


  1. Many people I know consider the independence of children a sure sign of successful parenting. Of course you are sentimental that your baby is now gone to school all day, but you have obviously done such a great job with them :) Yes, they can do absolutely anything because of your love. Sounds like a profound morning!

  2. I see our children as kites...


  3. They are all so big!!! Sniff sniff. With their cute lunch boxes (gotta love the Scooby Doo) and outfits for the first day. I can't believe Spence is in first. I keep thinking about Sue Nash and how she always used to say that "they won't do that when they are at their prom." Soon enough.