How I really felt on the first day of school…
The hallways were all abuzz. My nervous system jolted back into Fall and all that comes with a new school year.
I froze for an instant. Closing my eyes to remember the steel guitar playing on the shoreline of a Montana lake we visited this summer. “Take me back,” I held my breath and opened my eyes.
Our sweet Kindergarten student carrying a paper bowl with two homemade cake cookies and two flowers for her new teacher walks gently through the hallways of her new school. Parents and children rush past her and her flowers fly out of the bowl. We scoop them up and shuffle to her class. A little girl in front of her is sobbing. Kinder is a big day. Our daughter looks centered and calm and above all, ready.
I lose it. I head to the hills. Literally. The drive feels relieving. I drive to Lizards Mouth, the highest place in our city to get above the fog and marvel at the solar eclipse that everyone has been talking about. When I arrive, I can’t see my hand in front of my face. It’s too foggy and wet. I head down the mountain. The city looks busier than usual from above today. But I know that is only a reflection of how I feel inside. It’s overwhelming. I need another long pause. So I pull over and tears have my ecliptic ready glasses fogged up.
I make it down the mountain to a sweet get together at a friends’ home. I use my ISO certified eclipse glasses to view the galactic happenings. It’s beautiful. It’s red, orange, black and moving swiftly. It feels too fast. Everything feels like it’s moving too fast.
I pick up the kids at school a few hours later. They come bearing the Red Wildcat folders full of parent homework that cramp my hand muscles. Our eldest shows me her homework, Jr High Sudoko puzzle math that literally sends me over the edge and I have thirteen minutes before I leave for the new routine of soccer practice.
Lunches to unpack, group texts awaiting my response, four different pick up times to be attentive to, an onslaught of emails from two schools…
Wait!! What’s happening?! Bring back Summer!!!
I have lost my mojo many times this past week. I have been distracted, tired and overwhelmed. And I catch myself saying so many things to our girls daily. “Can you hold on please?” “I’m coming as fast as I can!” “I will help you right after I help your sister.” “Give me a moment, then I can hear you.” I repeat the above over and over and over. All of them basically equate to the same thing: “I see and hear you, I just can’t attend to you yet.”
There is one statement that I have said to our girls, however that supports my deeper mission as a mother: “I am with you.”
Sometimes, it’s all I have to say. I can’t help. I can’t fix something. I don’t know what else to say. But “I am with you,” is grounding and simple and sincere.
So our newly endoctrined Jr.
High daughter came home the other night with Spanish homework. “This”, so I thought, “I can handle!” Ps. “Dear Math teacher, Never send home Sudoku puzzles again. They shred synapses. Mainly mine.” Anyhow, our long-legged, fresh-faced 7th grader asked, “What does, Contigo mean?” “Oh! I exclaim, it means, “I’m with you. It can also mean, we’re behind you, we’re on your side”… I’m cut off.
“Yeah, Mom. Got it, thanks. Now I’m good, you can leave.” Sweet, honest, focused 7th grader.
Contigo translated can also mean, “I want to go with you.” Oh, and all of my heart wanted to go with each of our daughters as they stepped into new roles this Fall.
This transition every year is difficult for me. And my actions after school don’t always show it. I’m trying to clean up their rooms post summer fun because let’s face it, their rooms start to resemble a hoarders storage space! I’m trying to remember where to drive and when. I’m trying to support them in helping with homework. I’m trying to cook something healthy in 90 degree heat. I’m trying, I’m trying, and often, well … I am not succeeding.
“I’m doing my best,” I say. And I mean it. But I like “I am with you,” more. Because in the end, all we have is what we have given away; in our time, our treasure and our talents. “I’m with you” and “I am on your side,” means no matter what, I believe in you. And this may be the very best thing we can ever give away.
So we survived the first two weeks of school, a heat wave and the beginning of all new routines. Just barely. With flailing arms our kinder student exclaimed this am, “No! I do not want to go to school! I want to, but I am just so tired and I’m not in the mood for it at all!” I wasn’t flat on the floor with limbs flailing but I felt exactly the same way.
I hugged her. I said, “I am with you. Let’s eat breakfast and I’ll be there at pick up too.” Contigo.
The truth is, as mothers, we always aim to be there for our kids. Mothers keep their children above water lines when their city is flooding. They nurse at all hours of the night because they want to nourish their little ones. They wake early to cook a good breakfast. They work two jobs or more, to provide for their kids. Mothers give and offer and send blessings and prayers that their children have a beautiful life. We say “I am with you” even when we can’t be. We say, “I am with you”, even if it means we wish we could do more. We say, “I am with you and I believe in you”, because we mean it with every thread of our primal, human make-up.
When I saw eclipse glimpses between the coastal cloud layers last week, it resonated for me in such a powerful way how we are all connected to something so much larger than ourselves. We are connected to one another.
Give this away as often as you can. “I believe in you. I am with you.” Contigo.