Day One. New beginnings. Two kids in school full time.
I shuffle my newly minted 4th and 1st graders onto the bus, come inside and wipe a few tears away. I don't know what the tears are about, exactly. Nervous anticipation of what comes next? Gratitude that I'm back, from cancer, that I get to be the one to put them on the bus and meet them at the end of the day? Fear of the booming silence in my house? Relief?
Probably all of the above.
As they were waiting for the bus, Greta turned to me and said, "Mom, I have the caterpillars".
Usually they are described as butterflies in the stomach, but Greta calls them caterpillars in her
throat. Much better description, I think.
"I have them, too," I told her. "And I had them every first day of school, ever."
She gave me a tentative grin. "They're wiggling. A LOT," she said, and giggled.
"I'm not nervous at all," Finn chimed in. "At least I don't think I am. What's my teachah's name again? What's my room numbah? Oh. I think I have the catahpillahs, too."
Greta put her arm around him, glad for a little brother to comfort. "Stick with your friend Tim*", she said. "He's on your bus and in your class. If you stick together you'll be fine."
I watched from my perch on the porch, sipped my coffee, my heart swollen with gratitude as Greta wrapped her arms around Finn.
Of course, as the bus approached, she gently pushed him away and whispered, "Now, don't talk to me."
I always seem to see milestones as endings. No kid at home to take care of, lots of empty silence where before there was constant noise. My identity isn't totally wrapped around my kids, I'm grateful for that, and I have jewelry orders to make and the gym to go to and phone calls and emails to return. I can focus on my other life for a while.
I'm trying to see this as a beginning, not an ending. But, truthfully, it's both.
And today? I feel their absence in a semi-scary, semi-grateful way. I'm learning that opposite emotions can co-habitate in my mind. Scared and grateful. Nervous and excited. Empty and full. Closing and opening.
Today begins my regimen of self-care. My promise to myself that I won't try to take over the world in these first few months of two kids at school. That I'll take small bites - do something healthy for myself every morning - write, exercise, meditate, do yoga, read - before I start my day. That I won't go nuts cleaning the house, or spend hours messing about on the computer trying to create a new website for my business (something I have no business trying to do but it would get me out of my head for hours), or exercise like a fiend.
It's my time to spend some time with me. Maybe that's why I have the caterpillars. Spending time with myself can be scary for me, because I get all crazy nutso about what it all means, who I am supposed to be, have existential crises.
I'm dialing back, not up, and that's different for me. I'm giving my body and mind time to heal from the last year.
I'm all talking smack today - here on Day One. So call me on it, friends. Let's see how I'm doing on Day 15, or 21 of my non-world-domination campaign.
Right now, though, I'm off to sip coffee, stare out at the rain and listen to the booming silence.
*not his real name