That was heartbreaking.
I knew the first day at the new school was going to be.... choose an adjective, hard, difficult, awkward, challenging....
I knew it would take a LOT of getting used to.
But somehow I had not braced myself for this.
The moment the minivan door closed, Ashley burst into tears.
And began her list of all the hard moments.
She said someone had yelled at her for being late for dismissal. I told her I would find out what happened. Aidan wanted me to go in right then and there and find out what happened. (I loved that big brother instinct in him.)
She said there were so many things that were different, recess before lunch?!, snack in the afternoon?!
She said she wanted to go back to her (much loved) 1st grade teacher's class in our previous town, in our previous state.
In the car it took all I had not to burst into tears myself. For her.
Instead, I parked the car, came to her side, and hugged her.
I told her I completely understood how hard it all was, how much change this all was, how many things were different, how she missed her old teacher and her old class and her old school.
Aidan scowled and frowned and said everything was weird and strange and different.
We got home. Daddy and our doggies were there, familiar cartoons were on, things were calmer.
When I tucked her in that night of the first day of new school, she said to me "I don't want to live in Massachusetts."
I know that all of this is "normal." I know that people move. I know that children move. I know this very well because I changed schools myself many times during my childhood. And every single time it was hard.
I let my kids know that I've experienced what they are going through, as a child myself, and I remember very well what it feels like, so they will know I can relate, firsthand.
During this whole process of 3 months of knowing we were moving, I've told them over and over that all of their emotions were normal, and they could tell me all they were feeling, all of it, and that it was okay to feel mixed emotions: excited, scared, sad, nervous. I'm glad they talked about everything they were feeling, everyday, between when we found out in August that we were moving, to now having moved.
I know that one of my jobs as a parent, as a mother, is to teach them to be tough, to be strong, to embrace change, to learn how to handle new situations.....
And you know what my heart says? Blah, blah, blah, to all of that, I just want to protect them.
I've had a veryyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy hard time during these 9 years so far of parenthood learning that I am not going to be able to, nor am I supposed to, protect them from hard experiences, hard emotions, loss.
But, I know that I have to accept it.
The next morning when we arrived at school, and I parked, she told she did not want to get out of the car.
So, in a new spirit of pluck and encouragement, rather than go the hug and cuddle route, I put on my Ma Ingalls hat, and said in a chipper voice "I know, this is all a big adventure for all of us, Daddy is driving into work for the first time today, so we are all being brave and strong!"
And held my breath until dismissal.
They got into the car chattering away, telling me all about their day and their specials and the playground. And exhale.
Perhaps tougher moms are reading this and chuckling and thinking "Oh honey, you gotta lighten up, sister!" But that's not me. I'm the worrier, the is-everything-okay-'er, the how-can-I-make-it-better-'er. We all get to choose the kind of parent we are gonna be. Or maybe we have no choice at all in the kind we naturally are.... but we gotta add parts that are necessary.
One of my favorite blog writers titled her blog "Motherhood is not for wimps." Amen to that, sister.