We've reached several milestones in what feels like minutes. Today was a great one: the first day of Kindergarten for our daughter. She's been through pre-K and can navigate full days of school without a problem. She was ready, scared, a little sad, and excited - all the right emotions for the first day. We were allowed to wait with her as the classes lined up, and we waved as she walked away, then temporarily panicked as she passed the bagged breakfast she was supposed to grab ("She didn't see the pears! Pears are her favorite! OH GOD THE PEARS."), and then we left. No tears from her, me, or him. Good job, family.
Tomorrow, when the novelty of Day One has worn off and I am not allowed to walk inside with her, I fear a bloodbath of clinging and crying and prying off of hands. You might think I'm overreacting, but you weren't at camp this summer. That shit was brutal.
We took a picture that we love and put it up on social media. We tried not to make her pose for too long so as to not increase her anxiety in our quest to capture the moment. "You'll be great OH MY GOD STAND STILL you have nothing to worry about I NEED TEN MORE PICTURES HOLD ON." Then we sent some photos to Grandpa and Omama. She didn't have a dry erase board or a wee chalkboard with her grade and teacher. There was no pencil and apple background. We don't have Pinterest, so I don't know all of the cool and creative ways we're failing as parents.
She laid out her clothes the night before and dressed herself - including tying her shoes - this morning. I got a call from her teacher today letting me know she did well, and that they start homework next week. She'll probably drive herself to school tomorrow and have a spreadsheet for my overdue medical bills. She needs to get on that, cause Rush Hospital is pushy.
She told me she's excited for her second day, and that's good news, because she's already going to miss three days next week. Not to be relegated to a One-Milestone-A-Month household, we've also reached the First One Of Us To Have A Sibling Die milestone as of three weeks ago. My husband's older brother, John, died suddenly, leaving behind a wife and two children, along with a father who has to bury his son, and two brothers. We will be heading to California for services on Sunday, marking the second trip in two years. The last one was for services for my mother-in-law. If she were alive, this would likely kill her all over again. I cannot fathom burying my child, and I know so many who have. I am not ready to think about losing my sisters. I've been without parents for years.
My father took his life when I was 12 years old. My mother died of COPD months before I was married, and never met my child. I keep thinking that, since I've gone through these things, my husband won't have to. That isn't even remotely how life works, and I'm stunned at how stunned I am. I'm baffled by my inability to understand my inability to protect him from the death of loved ones.
I become morbid pretty easily. Sometimes, after my daughter falls asleep, I think about how much time I'll have with her. I was 38 by the time she came around, so I start doing math in my head, and the answers all lead to the things I'll miss. "I won't be here for her 60th birthday party. What if I'm not here when she's 50? 50's pretty young. Oh, shit, what if I don't meet her kids? Dammit, I should have..." and then I start crying because that is a really productive and awesome thing to do when your kid is finally asleep. There are great shows on Netflix, you have bourbon, but no you should sob over the future and all the ways you'll disappoint her by dying. That's good.
Tonight, as I put my girl to bed, I sang her songs that she requested. "Dream A Little Dream" and "Ten Cent Wings." That last one requires an adjustment, with all due respect to Jonatha Brooke. The line, "And I will fly, and you'll be with me: my wings, your heart" is to be sung correctly once and then repeated as, "And I will fly, and you'll be with me: I sing, you fart," because when you're singing that song and someone farts and you rhyme that on the spot, you keep it. After the songs, I told her how proud we were of her for her first day. And that I hope she loved that dark chocolate ice cream treat cause that was expensive.
"I love you, my brave girl."
"I love you faster than a cheetah," she said, invoking my new favorite game we play.
"I love you stronger than a hurricane."
"I love you stronger than a tornado."
"I love you brighter than lightening," I whispered.
"I love you louder than thunder." She didn't even skip a beat.
"I love you bigger than the universe."
"I love you hotter than the sun." Did I mention she's 5?
"I love you deeper than the ocean."
"I love you deeper than a lion's mane." I have no idea how deep that is. It's perfect. "Mama," she asked, "do you love Daddy that much?"
Someone's noticed it's been tense around here lately. I say this knowing she asked me the other day why we call her, "someone." Well.
"I do. I do love your Daddy that much. So so so much. Even if we sound frustrated or sad. There's a lot going on. But I love your Daddy so much. I think he's the best. The kindest, handsomest, smartest, funniest, strongest ever. Just like you."
And then she fell asleep. I didn't think about what I'd miss with her this time. Just about what I have.