The kids started school yesterday.
Lainie in fourth grade, Jackson in Kindergarten.
Both the kids being in school at once, has been a milestone I've waited for for a long time.
Now that it's here, it's surreal, sad, wonderful, and scary.
I forgot how much you fear for your kids on their very first day in school, which even though it's just Kindergarten, feels very much like "the big bad world".
I forgot about how I laid awake at night and wondered "What if she goes to the bathroom and can't find her way back to her class and just sits in the hall crying all alone?" and "What if she can't get her juice box open at lunch and no one is there to help her so she's thirsty?", when Lainie was first getting started.
We had four years of school under our belts. She was a pro, and aside from the usual girl drama and other-people's-kids stuff, I didn't do much laying awake at night worrying.
Now it's Jackson's turn, and the fear is all coming back to me.
What if he gets asked a question and he doesn't know the answer?
Did we practice the ABC's enough? Oh God, what's enough?
What if he gets lost?
What if he gets distracted and they leave him on the playground after recess and then someone walks up and just takes him?
What if the sky falls?
What if he's not ready?
What if I'm not ready?
Why did I want this day to come so badly?
I wish he could have stayed four forever.
Of course I don't really want him to be four forever, just like I didn't really want Lainie to stay home with me forever.
I want them to both grow up, find their feet and their wings, and go have great big lives.
But with every new milestone, with every new transition into another phase of their life, and the way it inevitably separates from mine with time, I feel myself holding on, and wishing I could stay in control a little longer.
Wishing I could always be there to open every juice box, to wipe every tear, to hold every hand on every walk to the bathroom.
To always make sure they won't be alone and confused and scared.
I feel myself secretly wishing for that, while I outwardly smile, kiss their cheeks, and gently push them toward the door of the school.
Because I know they have to be alone
And even sometimes scared
In order to have a great big life.
So I kiss their cheeks, and let go of their hands.