Day two. The calm, quiet of a mostly empty (my teen son won’t get out of bed for a while still) house soothes my tired mama soul. Two kids back, one to go. The week leading up to the new school year worked me over a bit. I’m restoring energy to prepare for the next first day.
Why is it that no one tells you that once you’re a parent, your children’s anxieties flutter even more frantically in your own gut, even as you comfort and feign confidence that all will be well? What if I can’t make any friends? What if I’m not smart enough for third grade math? Will my teacher be nice? What if I’m the slowest running the mile in my P.E. class? What should I do if my old friends no longer speak to me? What if I say something stupid in class? And for the grand finale of worries from out of the blue, Mom, what if you die before I learn how to drive?
It will all work out. You will have friends. You might be the slowest, but that would be okay. You jam on the guitar. Remember? If your old friends vanish, new ones will fill their places. You are strong, and always becoming stronger. You are smart. You are beautiful, inside and out. You will succeed. You are loved and supported. I will eat my greens and exercise regularly. And, I will drive carefully.
We shape teen brows. We buy fun shoes. We draw, we walk and talk, and we make up outrageous responses to hypothetical jerky remarks and questions. We cry. We sing silly songs, and blurt out private part names while in the car. Hilarity ensues. We hope and we worry. We talk about practicing yoga together and meditating.
And I haven’t even started with my rising high school junior, switching schools for the first time since kindergarten.
How I wish I could install like software the wisdom I have gathered after surviving the downfall of friendships, falling down a flight of stairs as the cool kids sat on the sides laughing, the heartbreaks, being shoved into the lily pond, the mistakes. It all passes. It hurts for a bit, and fades away, leaving us more resilient, better able to discern who and what to make important in our lives. To focus on each beautiful moment and let the ugly ones teach us and then, wash away.
We parents must be warriors of love. Ready to face the ugliest, scariest, saddest scenes, and administer warm, soft, gushy love that will fill in the cracks left by worry, fear, and hurt. We must remember to refill our own supply by loving ourselves just as ferociously. Making space for quiet connection, dancing away the anxieties, running off the frustration, walking in nature, and dosing ourselves with whatever it is that provides the most joy.
Perhaps, watching us plug into our own ever-flowing source of wellness will inspire our littles to do the same. Eating lunch alone is actually not so bad.