First Day of School, My Thoughts

First Day of School

The first day of school has come and gone.

Three kids, two schools, several new teachers – there was a lot of “first day” excitement in the air here in our home and I’m sad to say all of the laughter, joy, excitement and anticipation of that day has now passed. I am left with the memory of it all and a new, private emotion that stays with me every day now. An emotion I don’t want to share with my kids because I hate having it myself.

This year is a big year for my oldest child: a new school, a new bus, a new start time and a new routine. Everything about school is different for him this year. He’s handling the changes well, with anticipation not anxiety, I think it’s a little on the early side, I’d like a little more sleep.

As we made breakfast that first morning we went over his schedule, we put his lunch together and packed his backpack. His excitement was palpable. He was really looking forward to meeting his new teachers and seeing who else was in his classes. He was chatty and laughing and pushing me to get him to the bus on time, “We can’t be late Mom! Don’t make me late!”

I was excited for him too, I remember my first day of 7th grade and all of the feelings mentioned already. I’ve always looked at the beginning of the school year like a bonus “New Year.” You get to start fresh, you feel older (because you are older), you feel more mature (because you are more mature), you feel more grown-up (because you are more grown-up) and whether you are or not, you feel more capable of handling all the world is going to bring your way.

All of these things were true for me then and now, for him. Yet, when I look at my son I still see a child, my first baby, who is only twelve. A child who is growing and maturing but still has so much to learn. As he is feeling ready to take on the world, I’m still quietly hoping to protect him and praying the world is kind as he works his way through it.

So the morning draws to a close as we wait for the bus. I wish him good luck and kiss and hug him goodbye (before the bus gets there, of course.) And we wait quietly, peacefully. Within minutes it’s there, the big yellow bus, jolting to a stop, opening its doors and waiting as he and his friends run to get on. As the door closes and the bus drives away, I panic.

“What if this is the last time I see him?”

The sudden fear that overtakes me is crippling and all I want to do is run after that bus and bring him back home. I don’t, of course. I sit there and try to catch my breath, calm my heart and reason with myself. I wipe away my tears and drive home with a pit in my stomach and the question still circling my brain.

“What if this is the last time I see him?”

My whole heart is on that bus. I’m panicked. I know I’m doing the right thing, I’m doing what I’m supposed to do. I’m doing what is considered normal and expected. What I’m doing is breaking my heart and filling me with fear. I’m not sending him off to someplace safe. I’m sending him to school. And I’m terrified.

I ask myself, “Have I done enough?” Does he know I love him? In moments of terror and fear will he know that he is loved and will he find peace in that? Will he remember that he can pray and find comfort there? Will he know that he is strong and capable and has been taught how to handle a terrifying circumstance in school? If this is the last time I see him, have I done enough to build his mental and spiritual reserves that he might know peace and love in the midst of terror and fear?

I don’t know if that’s possible.

I spent the rest of the first day of school on the edge of emotion and a little panicky. I can’t share that with my children, they aren’t thinking about school this way. I, on the other hand, can’t help it.

This isn’t a “first day of school” exclusive fear, that’s just when it happened to hit me. I think about it every day and when I’m saying good-bye in the morning I do it with intention and I look my children in the eyes. I hug them tighter and hold them for a second longer. I pray that their day in school is filled with happiness and fun. And I pray that they are safe.

Getting on the bus

 

39 Comments

  1. Oh Steph, that thought goes through my head every now and then too, especially since the unthinkable happened right in our backyard practically. I am teary eyed just thinking about it because someone says it out loud or I read it, I tend to get all those emotions right back. In many ways you think its an irrational fear (what’s going to happen to them at school?) but then you hear that something horrible does happen at school, or at a movie theatre, really it could be anywhere. You just never know. All we can do is hug them tight, and make sure they know how much they are loved.

  2. got me crying in the am…. Thank you for putting so eloquently into words the feeling that I think so many of us have now. The only good things is that you are not alone in your feelings and that we all need to realize that.

  3. That adorable pic of your firstborn had me smiling and laughing, and then I read and got teary eyed as well. I tend to live in denial sometimes, trying not to go down that road of thought, afraid I’d become paralyzed if I do, but you did ‘nail it’ about those feelings. I love that you think about their emotional and spiritual strength in times like those as well. It’s something I’ve tried to work hard on teaching my kids and trying to give them the motivation to tap into prayer at times like that, as well as positive moments (or everyday moments) as well. If they feel secure in having that relationship, and knowing we love them and think of them as well, then that will take over for our inability to be present in difficult situations and provide them with more than we can even if we’re present.

  4. I think about this a lot too, and it’s overwhelming, and I wish I didn’t have to. I always think about all of the dangerous things that can happen to my kids when I’m not around, or even when I am around. It’s worse if I’m not. To make myself feel better, I think about all of the things that go well and go right every single day.

  5. The Dose of Reality

    My daughter went on a weekend trip with her dad and their Y guides tribe this weekend and I had a bout of this right before they left. What if something happened to her? I hugged her extra tight before she left, but it’s just such a horrible feeling. These times don’t happen to me very often so when they do, they kind of freak me out. (like I wonder if I have some sort of premonition…which is totally stupid, but there you go) GAH!!! I’m glad I’m not alone in having these moments. –Lisa

    • It is a horrible feeling and I wonder about the premonition thing, too, when the thought (fear) comes on right out of the blue like that. It’s hard to let them go once you’ve had the thoughts, it’s hard to smile and say goodbye.

  6. I think about it too, but it is too much to bear. I have to quickly remind myself to focus on all the things I know for sure at that moment and think of all the good and blessings in my life!

  7. I *don’t* think this a lot, because I think I could get swallowed up by that fear so easily. But I do hope that every time they get on that bus, they know they are loved. I think I will make sure to tell them every morning before I send them up those bus steps and say goodbye.

    • “Swallowed up” is apt here. I was very surprised at the thoughts and still wonder how I didn’t stop that bus! Thankful I don’t feel like this everyday but it has made me more aware when I do say goodbye to them.

  8. I consciously try not to “go there”. I think it would be impossible to ever let our children out of our sight if we did! All we can do is prepare them for time away from us as best as we can and hope that they remember our advice and act accordingly. Thankfully those completely random acts of violence are still rare, but this year has shown us how close to home they can hit. I struggle with making them aware without freaking them out – I don’t want my children to mistrust every person they meet, nor do I want them to feel oppressed in my love (a sure fire way to drive them away in my opinion). I guess just another balancing act for parents and children to navigate.

  9. Really cute photo of your son BTW!

  10. Oh you are definitely not alone. I remember thinking I have to follow the school bus, just to make sure they get there okay. Twenty years later I haven’t gotten any better. I still worry. Guess it’s all part of the circle.

  11. I don’t have any children, but I can’t imagine how hard it is to pack them up and not know the outcome of the day! Thanks for sharing this!

  12. OH! I know this feeling- so well. I have it at odd moments, too- but it’s especially when I get texts about school lockdowns. You’re not alone!

  13. Hey there! I was just stopping by to say thank you for the follow on bloglovin’! I’m happy to be following you back :o) Hope you’re having a great Wednesday!

    croppedstories@gmail.com

  14. I must say reading this left me feeling emotional. Sometimes I think I’m being irrational when I have these thoughts. My son is just a toddler, but whatever their age, they are our babies! I think dealing with these fears is the toughest part of being a mother.

  15. My son went off to Kindergarten this year and I felt well prepared to let him fly, until his bus was late dropping him off and I found the same terror. How could I lose him on the very first day? What if this morning was the last time I will ever see him? He did come home, of course, but that changed how ready I thought I was to embrace his independent life. Thank you for sharing your feelings.

  16. I can absolutely relate to this! My kids are only in preschool but I definitely have thoughts like this. It’s awful. I guess it’s all part of being a mom and loving your kids more then anything else in the world!! I also lost my mom to cancer when I was 17 so I think I have that fear of unimaginable loss and it’s so very scary. Thank you for sharing this.

    • I’m sorry for the loss of your mom, especially so young. I worry about my parents, too, especially as they age. That’s a lot of worry (kids & parents) – so I really try hard to appreciate the time I do get to spend with them and not take it for granted. Thank you for reading & commenting, I read a bunch of your posts last night – I love your blog!

  17. oh this is so insanely beautiful, I can’t stand it. I am so happy that you shared this with us. I remember being so excited with all of the butterflies for my first day of school. Safety should be the number one prayer of ALL moms.

  18. I don’t let myself think those thoughts – I couldn’t bear it. But I say I love you to each kid before they leave each day and before they go to bed each night. They know, and that gives me comfort.

  19. This is just so beautiful. Your whole heart is on that bus. I love that line. I think it is so normal to feel that way about the people we hold precious to us. Sometimes I have fear something might happen to my husband. I wonder – did I tell him I love him? I am so happy now that I just can’t stand the thought of losing it.

  20. That fear can be overwhelming at times, right? As my mom said – you have to live your life in spite of the fear. Sometimes easier said than done.

  21. It’s my greatest fear – to never see my children again. So yes, hug them tight, kiss them goodbye, and let that be a sweet moment, because life is unpredictable. It does seem like a very difficult way to live life though, so I do try and punctuate my day with positive thoughts!

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