Today marked a great big finish line for us: The First Day of School. #BrokenFootSummer is “over,” and we have entered the broad and beautiful landscapes of third and fourth grade (new striped cast and scooter notwithstanding).
Even though I am not a mom who grieves such things, I surprised myself by not doing my pirouette-hopscotch-skips out of the parking lot. I kind of wanted to stick around, and I don’t know, see them off completely. I wanted to watch them actually go into the building, even though that exact rite of passage just sort of breaks my heart a little tiny bit. It’s the symbolism of it, I think. It’s like a metaphor for everything I’m doing at all – launching them into the world, hoping like everything that they’ll remember what I’ve taught them, praying that grace will fill in the gaps I’ve left glaringly wide open, and willing them to stay safe until I see them again.
I stuck around on the playground, and I let my heart feel that little fissure of motherhood, that crack that tore open with a positive pregnancy test and never really closed again.
I watched one boy scooter his way through the crowd, looking every bit the confidence he is. I watched another boy stand in a crowd of boys his height, all of them sharing jokes and jabs from the summer, looking so cool with their haircuts and backpacks. And I was glad I stuck around, because sure enough, one boy needed just one more fist bump before his class filed inside the big double doors of a new year.
I gave him one more fist bump, one more “you’ve so got this.”
And then I got in the car, and it was so weird because I kind of missed them. Like, not enough to go back in and get them or anything. But the absence of them in the aftermath of so very much presence… it’s just palpable. You can hear the silence.
I texted my mom, she who understands the loving and the missing and the very blessed and occasional not-missing. She still tells about how sad she was to put my brother on the bus for his first day of kindergarten, only until she looked at the clock and realized a whole seven hours stretched before her.
Gone. Like, so gone.