I am anxious.
In one week my first born will have her first day at elementary school.
She’ll go one way through the door and I’ll go the other; I may see one final peek of the rainbow star backpack she chose months ago in delightful anticipation of this very day as she walks away.
What will she be feeling? I can’t know.
Is she ready? Is this the school for her? Will someone be nice to her? Will someone be mean to her? What if she can’t find the lunch line, or the bathroom? What if children aren’t supposed to be in school anyway? Should we be in France where they have organic multi course meals? Should we be living in the woods and killing our own meat like the family in Captain Fantastic? What if there’s a mass shooting on her first day? ARGGGGGHHHHH!
As I said before I’m anxious, my thoughts are spiraling.
What’s J thinking? What’s she feeling? What’s her experience?
I don’t know. I can’t. My experience is being completely overtaken by my own interior drama.
And here’s the thing. I want to know.
People often say that when you have a child your heart is now walking outside in the world, and of course it’s true. But here’s where it gets tricky, there’s something else in that child’s body too, the child’s own growing heart. It started beating long before she was born. The mother child connection is so profoundly clear on this paradox, we’re connected and we’re separate.
In order for her to have space in her little beautiful body for her own heart to grow and be nurtured, I’ll need to clear some space in mine. The clearing process isn’t pretty. It can feel heavy and messy; just like when you do a deep clean of your closet all the gunk you tucked far far away makes it’s way out into the light.
Almost like magic, when you have a child the feelings you’ve hidden away slowly (and sometimes quite quickly!) emerge. And because of the way that I want J to have her own experience and because the fact that I want to be present for it (I’ve already had my childhood after all),
I choose to clear some space.
I choose to feel the intense sensations in my body that arise when I think about J heading off. I accept that I don’t know what’s going to happen when she does. I find my own scared child inside of me and cry with her. I reach my adult hand out to the little one and let her know I’m here. It’s intense and scary and a big part of me wants to pack up and run and grab her rainbow star backpack while I’m at it, but I won’t.
When the day comes for J to go her way through the door and me to go another, I’ll probably still cry, but I don’t know if she will. If she does I hope the tears are her own.