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letting go

kindergarten, dropp off,letting go

kindergarten, dropp off,letting go

Kindergarten is Kinda Killing Me

Kindergarten hasn’t gotten any better for me; it’s gotten worse. This morning was the first day that I dropped my five-year-old off at school and didn’t walk her to her kindergarten classroom. I know. She’s been a kindergartner for 8 whole days, as of today. I should be over it. But it’s different letting them walk in by themselves. That’s really letting them go to kindergarten without you. That’s relinquishing control. It’s trusting that they are okay without you, that they will make it safely to class from the drop off point, that they won’t get overwhelmed and reach out for you only for you to not be there. It’s admitting to kindergarten that my baby is now a big kid.

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dog, daughter, kindergarten, back-to-school, first day of school, letting go

The first day of kindergarten and a sick dog. This week is emotionally chaotic. Too much change at once. This week is supposed to be hard. It’s the first week of school for my girls. Gabs is starting kindergarten, so obviously I am all verklempt. I am trying to hold my shit together because there is nothing worse than a 5 year old seeing her Mommy act like she’s sending her baby off to war. Oh, but my mommy heart. It hurts.

dog, daughter, kindergarten, back-to-school, first day of school, letting go

Meet the Kindergarten Teacher Day

I’m trying to be proactive and make it easier. Yesterday, I took her to school to meet the teacher and showed her around the room and the school.  We investigated every nook and cranny of that Kindergarten class. She was a bit overwhelmed but I kept telling her how awesome it was going to be and her big sister was there to reassure her. I just kept swallowing the lump in my throat. Pushing it down, down, down; where it will stay until I am safely outside the building on the first day of school this Thursday. THEN, I will collapse in a heaving, hyperventilating  pool of snot and tears.Yes, my heart is going to break. I know this. I’ve been here before with my first but this is different, this is my last baby.

My sweet little shy girl who embarrasses easily and who wears her heart on her sleeve. But like her sister before her, she will suck it up and make that funny little smile that tells me that she is feeling unsure and a little bit scared inside but she won’t let anyone else know, just her and I, it’s our secret. I’ll want to make it all better but the only way to make it better is to let her experience it and know that it is okay. This is one thing the girls have definitely inherited from me, they need to feel their feelings and survive them to know they can. We are “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger girls” and we are firmly set in our beliefs that, “Failure is not an option” even when it may seem like the only choice there is. We keep on trying. Both my girls are like that; stoic to the bitter end, almost to a fault. I wish she could just cry and get it all out but she’s too much like me. We do cry but first we push stuff down, way down and we carry on no matter how much it eats at us on the inside and necrotizes that spot we push it down to.

But the crap just keeps piling on. The same week that my baby starts kindergarten and my Bella has moved up to 2nd grade, my oldest and furriest girl (our 13 year old boxer, Saffaron) is sick. She’s old and we know that every day is a gift with this girl. Saffaron was the first baby the Big Guy and I had together. We brought her home in September, 4 months after we were married and she has been by our side since. I love this dog like only a Mommy can. My girls adore her. I’ve been trying to explain that sometimes people and animals get REALLY old (I’m trying to convince them that me being 39 is NOT really old) or sick and they go to sleep and then they go to be with God and wait for us. This is what I told them about their baby and now I am telling them this about their dog.

kindergarten, dog, letting go, growing up, getting old

This is how the dog marked meet the kindergarten teacher day

Today, the dog was really not feeling well. She was lying around not moving (she was breathing, I checked) but she just seemed done. Yes, I’ve seen this look before and we had a conversation last year. She owes me 5 more years, because my heart is not ready to say good-bye again so soon. I just had to say good-bye in May and I think there should be at least a year in between good-byes to people and things you love. Last year, she almost died from an acute case of pancreatitis. My grandmother died from pancreatic cancer about a month before my dog was afflicted. No, I am not saying that my Grandma gave my dog pancreatitis but my year in between good-byes rule came to mind this morning.

I grabbed my girls; sleepy (because she’s trying to adjust to the school sleep schedule), nervous (because she has been sporting her nervous “Help me mom” smile since she realized that this was the week she started BIG school) and Grandma Moses (because my once spry puppy is now an elderly 91) and off to the veterinarian hospital we went. As I looked in the rearview, I saw both of my daughters sporting the “Oh Jesus, please don’t today be the day our dog dies!”  TO my right, the dog is giving me the,”Please don’t hit any bumps. Dear Jesus, take me quick!” Me, I am torn. On one selfish hand, I don’t ever want that beautiful bitch to die. I just love her too damn much and our family will be incomplete without her walking around looking at us all like we are all a bunch of assholes before giving us lots of love out of pity for our stupidity. She thinks we are big dumb animals; it’s obvious to us.  But on the other hand, I don’t want her living in pain. Her body is not what it used to be. Her arthritis is awful in the mornings, she’s got glaucoma, and benign tumors pop up all over her body at random times for no apparent reason. She’s tired and I’m pretty sure that soon she will be ready to go and we will have to let her go.

The letting go sucks. I just hope it’s not this week. This week, I have that beautiful and sweet bitch pumped full of antibiotics and pain pills. We are all giving her a little more love and attention than usual. I’m hoping she will grace us with her big heart and floppy ears for at least another year. This week I have to start the letting go of my 5 year old and I just don’t think that my Mommy heart can handle losing my furry daughter. I don’t think any of us can, least of all the 5 year old. Please don’t turn the first week of kindergarten at my house into a country song.

How did you mark the first day of kindergarten?

kindergarten, dog, letting go, back-to-school

Kindergarten has got nothing on this dog

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Every morning, I keep seeing the Mommies attached to their hysterical children, clinging to their legs/waists for dear life and sobbing uncontrollably.And every morning, I thank God that Bella isn’t doing that. Mostly because I couldn’t handle it. I just can’t imagine how that would wear on your heartstrings, day after day, watching as your child baby is overcome with fear and anxiety at leaving the safety and love of their Mommies arms. I do realize that if Bella were doing this, you could find me every single morning after drop off, emotionally crumpled in a puddle of tears and snot. It would be awful for both of us. I mean I am, after all, the Mommy who laid in labor with her second child, crying at a cell phone photo of her first born, because I felt so sorry for abandoning her to go to the hospital and give birth. Yeah, the apron strings are pretty taut between me and my Bella. But I loosen them as needed, for her sake. I am mature enough to know that I have to let her grow up, no matter how much I may not like the idea.Then Monday came.

There was absolutely nothing special per se about Monday, at least not noticeable to the untrained eye. The only thing that was different, was that the Big Guy had gone back to Iowa on Sunday night. You know to his hole that he lives in for work during the weekdays.Sunday’s are always hard on all of us but I had totally forgot about this Monday.I have noticed over the years that though I may be Bella’s “Best Friend” ( as she lovingly refers to me), Daddy has always been her rock. There is just something about a 6’5″ man, with a big strong body and an equally as big heart, that makes a girl feel safe and makes it easy to draw strength from. That is the Big Guy. Monday morning we followed the same routine that we had on Thursday and Friday; the absolute only thing missing was her Daddy. There were no tears from my Bella amidst the plethora of tears falling that morning amongst her classmates. I assumed all was fine.

When Gabs and I picked Bella up from school that afternoon, she seemed a little rattled as if something were missing. In retrospect, she was looking for the Big Guy. We drove home, as she rattled off the days events at a furied pace. We got home and things started going south. She proclaimed, almost angrily, that she didn’t like her outfit and promptly discarded it onto the floor. I was a little annoyed and quite confused by her behavior. I asked her to pick up her clothes; she responded with whining. I asked her close the front door; she responded with tears. I asked her what she wanted for lunch; she barked a hostile “NOTHING!” at me. The responses were becoming increasingly inappropriate to, what I thought was, seemingly innocuous requests. It was quickly a train wreck speeding out of control from bad to worse. Then Gabs had the audacity to ask her how school was; then the sobbing began.A fly landed on her and all hell broke lose! I was baffled. Is a 5 year old supposed to get PMS?

Concern trumped annoyance and I asked, in every possible way, what was wrong. After an eternity of sobbing and undecipherable blubbering, once she hit the point f hyperventilation from hard and ugly  crying, she had Gabs joining in  on the hysteria. I was a hair away from breaking down myself. Then she leans in and wraps her little arms around me, hugging me tighter than she has in a LONG time ( tighter than all those aforementioned Kindergartners holding on for dear life to their Mommies) and whispers this through her sobs (in her little baby kitty sounding voice) “Mommy, I don’t want to go to school. I just want to stay home with you and Gabs!I only love Mommy!” How could I not feel my insides turn to goo and my heart start to fall apart?

I held back my own tears,even though I wanted to curl up into a crumpled mess of snot and tears on the floor. It made me realize how hard all of this Daddy being out of town business has been on the girls. Sure its been difficult on the Big Guy and I but we are adults, most of the time. She misses her Rock and the collateral damage was a small nervous breakdown. I held her tight for almost forever and then a little longer and told her how we were so proud of her for being so brave and going to school. I told her how much we loved her, about all the exciting things she will do, the friends she will make and that Daddy wished he could be here with her. Then I told her, whenever she felt sad and missed us,to close her eyes and think of us and we would be at home thinking of her at the same time, because we are always thinking about her. We ended it with a nose kiss, a group hug, and a promise to walk her into class the next morning.

She called her Daddy in Iowa and he assured her that he was so proud of her, loved her more than life itself, and that he was thinking of her always. She seemed to take comfort in this.Apparently, everything sounds better coming out of his mouth. He also told her that we would send a photo to school in her backpack of all of us together. She hung up the phone, renewed and relaxed. Her entire body unclenched. Daddy the superhero. In the end, she felt better; we felt worse about the letting go. She grew up and we broke down. The letting go is the hardest part of growing up.

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So, tomorrow my Bella starts the big K (DUMDUMDUMDDUMDUUUUUM) Kindergarten! I knew I might be emotional tomorrow, and I still suspect am positive that I will be. I assumed that it was going to be like last year, Gabs would have the break down which would trickle down unto me causing me in the end..to weep sob uncontrollably in the shelter of my SUV. That’s probably still going to happen. I called in reinforcements. The Big Guy is coming home a day early to hold my hand as I let go of my Bella’s. ( Oh shit, I think I am going to tear up just writing this. What a hot mess I will be tomorrow morning).Everything is ready. Bags are packed, papers signed, snack ready, clothes laid out; commence the letting go ( Oh how I hate the letting go).
But tonight, surprise, I was hit with a little ninja style, around the back of the head when your not looking emotional kick. It sorta reminds me of the morning that I was about to marry the Big Guy. I was fine; excited, in the moment about to marry the BIG GUY / the man of my dreams (Squeal) then it happened. As I was getting dressed,  I slyly looked out the window of the rectory and spied my betrothed,there in the church garden, smiling the biggest and happiest smile I had ever seen and taking his photos with the groomsmen. I slowly & silently pulled back from the window and it hit me like a 20 ton pile of bricks, ” You are about to be this mans wife…FOREVER!” It wasn’t just the enormity of the life altering event at hand, it was the realization that I had not a clue what it all had meant until that moment in the window. The weight of my life changing forever, even for the best it could ever be, was in fact still a humongous change. It was the symbol of who I was dying and metamorphosing into who I was becoming. It was HUGE! I was rattled, right there in my bright white wedding gown; completely disarmed by the man I love’s smile.
Tonight, as I was in my routine, getting the girls ready for bed. I was lying in bed snuggled up with my Bella reading her The Night before Kindergarten and before I knew it, another damn 20 ton pile of bricks fell on me. The enormity of my baby starting Kindergarten. This is life changing for all of us but most of all for her. For me, it is the first of many, many, many lettings go ( total SUCK for me) but for her it is the beginning for so many opportunities. It truly is the first day of the rest of her life. I am so excited for her and I want to let her know that it is OK to be frightened but excited because that is what all the good  great things in life feel like. It breaks my heart a tiny bit that she is becoming so independent and growing up so fast but I am so thankful that for a little while I got to be the center of her world. She will always be the center of mine. Happy first day of Kindergarten,Bella! Mommy loves  you and is so proud of you!

I’ll let you know tomorrow how well I actually held up! Happy Mothering!

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