I don't know how we got here – not to 2017, not to age four-and-a-half, not to choosing a school, not to backpacks and supplies and new shoes and paperwork and open houses and scheduling parent-teacher interviews – not to any of it. But here we are, whether I like it or not. (And I don't like it at all, for the record.)
The advent of Pre-K is barreling toward us at light speed; one week from tomorrow, my sweet little human will march—boldly, I so desperately hope—right through the front door of her new school and into her very first classroom. And, if the record wasn't clear as yet, I don't like it at all.
This may or may not come as a surprise to you, but I'm treating her entrance into the school system as my own personal dumpster fire. I'm more relaxed about the foods that give me anaphylaxis than I am about booting my baby out of the house and shoving her into that loud, weird chaos and booger hub (I wish I was kidding.). I think about the way she gets in large crowds, the way she cringes and buries herself in the crook of my neck when she hears loud noises, the way she stares at the ground with resolve when a stranger dares show her any attention, and the way her voice turns to a mere whisper until she feels safe again. I think about how every aspect of this is going to shock her system and make her wonder whether we ever loved her at all, the traitors that we are.
I'm bending over backwards to squelch my nervousness and instead to pump her up, of course—and elated she is, really. She can't wait. She squeals, she bounces around and she giggles just thinking about the excitement of it all. I mean, I get it—it's SCHOOL! What a cool thing! What a novel idea! Her best friend's going to be in her class (did I mention that? As if you needed one more reason to see how irrational I'm being), there's a cafeteria there AND IT HAS FOOD IN IT, and THERE'S A LIBRARY INSIDE THE BUILDING. I don't know what on this earth is more delightful to her than that.
But I'm terrified.
I've been talking it all out with the people in my life, soaking up advice and assurances that she'll be fine—and I know that she will. I've been doing my share of deep breathing to combat my own insecurities and fears, and it's been helping. But the other night, I lost it. I'd been watching Game of Thrones, and it unknowingly triggered my anxiety—the episode ended, and I was suddenly curled up in a ball on my couch trying to contend with this deluge of emotion over how Margot's going to fare. I let the minutiae take center stage—how will she be? What will she feel? Will she find her classroom, or the bathroom, without trouble? Will she eat? Will she cry? And in those first chaotic and confusing minutes, will she feel utterly alone and afraid? Will the tendrils in my mind—the ones that wind securely around her heart—be able to even remotely relinquish or let go? I let quiet tears travel gently down my cheeks, and tried desperately to overthrow the intensity of it all, but nothing helped, save sleep: not inadvertently sending a live feed of my low-grade anxiety attack to my sister via Snapchat, not hammering out the details with my husband as we lay in bed in the dark, not reminding myself over and over that she will be fine—none of it. Because until we get a feel for this, and until I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that she is weightless, I will not be quite fine.
She won't know my hesitation, or so I hope. She hasn't caught on yet, but it's anyone's guess as to how well I'll keep myself together on the morning of the 7th. I know it gets better—I do—but if you're the praying type, dear friends, pray that for just one single day I'm no longer the deep-feeler and empath that I am. I'm feeling all of the feelings; I'm scared; I'm shouldering all of her emotions before they've even materialized, and I'm making assumptions at every turn—but this, of course, is the role a worrier plays best. I'm feeling the feelings before they've had their chance. This is anxiety, this is empathy, this is real.
Wake me when we know everything's going to be just fine—and don't even come into my room unless you've got IPA, cheese pizza and Dairy Queen. Understood? This is going to be rough. I'll need big help.