I know that my first post should be about what brought me here in the first place, but I will come back to that later. Or maybe not. Maybe I am already there. That title up there? That is what brought me here today.
I asked myself that last night. It was shortly after midnight, I had been trying to sleep for a few hours, we had somewhere to be first thing in the morning, and I was thinking about my daughter.
She is five and kindergarten begins on Wednesday.
I know. This is trite. The pining, reflective mother thinking about her first born being ready for kindergarten. Everyone collectively roll your eyes. Is that out of your system? Great. We can begin together.
I remember the day she was born. Of course I do. How could I forget the most painful event in my life? I remember forty-two long weeks of pregnancy. I was trying to beat some famous pachyderms in regards to gestational fortitude. It was me against science back in 2013. Science won. Well, Pitocin won. Pitocin fought a hard battle. I bow down to Pitocin. I remember sitting with my husband in the summer of 2012 and saying, “No, really. I think we should have a baby.” And him saying, “Let’s do it!”
And I remember the day she was born. I remember holding her and thinking, “How, on Earth, am I officially responsible for this little person’s entire life? What am I supposed to do with her?” I remember late nights with this Timeline of a Breastfed Baby and thinking about each of the milestones she would reach. I would hold her to my breast and look at the two of us in the mirror hanging in her nursery, and I would will myself to imprint the image of the two of us in my memory as clearly and completely as possible. I wanted to absorb her tiny self, feel the weight of her, and protect her forever. I remember tears. Tears of frustration, tears of hopelessness, tears of joy. I cried for myself and my baby and for mothers everywhere. There is something that feels truly connecting about holding your firstborn child in your arms in the early morning hours. Billions of mothers have done it, and I was doing it too.
So, like billions of mothers, I am preparing to send that little soul off to kindergarten. She has been home for the last five years. Besides a single year of three day a week mornings at preschool, she has spent every day at home with my husband, a work from home dad and a saint. We are not Catholic, but I am sure that Francis himself would agree that my husband deserves canonization.
She is ready. I know that. She is stinking smart. Like, by the age of three, she had decided that her favorite constellation is Orion, her favorite dinosaur is a brachiosaurus, and her favorite parent is Momma. Poor Saint Daddy lost that one with our daughter. She knows things that her ten year old cousin does not. She is so excited to learn how to read, and honestly, heaven help her unsuspecting teacher who will become another audience for the hours of stories she wants to tell every day. She is an empath. She feels what others feel. She wants to be a doctor, and I believe she has the focus and brain to do it, if that is the path that she still wants to be on in fifteen years’ time.
But I am not ready. I have stopped sleeping. I told Saint Daddy that I might never sleep again now that she is going to school. A few nights ago, I could not sleep because I realized that we had never really told her how to help prevent the spread of head lice. Truly, that was the thing that kept me up all night. Out of all of my possible concerns, I could not sleep because I never told her not to share hats with her friends. I tossed and turned. I considered waking her up at 2:37 am to tell her about head lice and how I could potentially have to cut her hair and bag up Tiana, her favorite doll, and it would be a nightmare, so please, I am begging you, never touch another child. Do not even look at another child. What would we do with lice in the house? Would I have to shave her baby brothers’ heads? Would I have to burn the house down?
In the morning, as she ate her generic marshmallow cereal, I told her about head lice. “Don’t share hats, hair clips, hair brushes, or pillows with your friends. You don’t want lice.” Sidenote: My word! I hope I do not give her my anxiety!
Last night, my concern, the thing that kept me up, was this question. This burning thought. Did I love her enough? Will that love be enough to sustain her in the years ahead? My brain keeps telling me that this is it. That kindergarten starting means that I have no more opportunities to show her my love. It is over now. I had my chance. So with that in mind, did I love her enough? Could she feel my love during those forty two weeks? Did the Pitocin mix with my blood and enter her veins filled with my love? Did she get it from my breasts as I read about her upcoming milestones? Every time I kissed a boo-boo, every time I washed her hair, every time I hugged her close, did she feel my love? Did I love her enough?
Now, I know it is ridiculous to think about kindergarten as the end of my opportunity to show her my love. But part of being the person who I am is being someone who knows her thoughts are ridiculous but feels them anyway.
I just hope I filled her to the brim with love during the last five years. I hope that love holds her when she sits on the bus for the first time surrounded by children she has never seen before. I hope it sustains her when she feels her first sting of rejection. I hope my love carries her through heartbreaks I have worked hard to guard her against while she was here with us alone for those first five years of her wonderful, beautiful, remarkable life.
And I know that I join billions of other mothers who have had that thought.