Sophie's first day of Kindergarten.
I think it was probably pretty obvious from my previous post and the chubby-cheeked-trek-down-Memory-Lane that I wasn't quite ready to let her go. Even though, admittedly, the thought of a teeny break from the glitter glue antics did sound pretty darn nice. (I only yelled, "SWEET GLORIOUS FREEDOM!" and frolicked, dancing and prancing in the street, that one time Wednesday night.) ...Still, I knew I'd probably get a little misty when I left her in her classroom and made the Sad Mom Walk back to the car. How can you weather a momentous event such as The Big K without squeaking out a few tears, right? So, despite not being a crier, I'd prepared myself to be a little "out of sorts" that morning. Maybe a tiny bit droopy. What I did not expect was to burst into tears the moment my eyes popped open. Nor did I expect to continue squalling, working my way through an entire box of Kleenex by mid-morning.
It was ugly, peeps. U-G-L-Y.
By the time I ended up calling Russ at work and telling him, through sniffles and snorts and Snuffleupagus-ness, that I was a little upset about Sophie being gone and that maybe we should go get a little something to eat together for brunch, I was so puffy I looked like I needed an epi pen to counteract the bee attack on my face. I knew I wasn't fit for public, but I thought maybe the distraction would help restore me to normalcy. I should've known when Russ asked me where I wanted to eat and I blurted out, "Sleepy Hollow Elementary School!" and started ugly-crying again that normalcy was not in the cards.
But we forged bravely ahead.
I collected myself during the drive to IHOP and was doing most-excellently - right up to the point when the waitress walked up with the menus with the smiley face pancake on the front that Sophie always orders. That's when I let out a noise like a stepped-on cat and buried my face in the roll of toilet paper I'd carried into the restaurant. The poor waitress. She wasn't sure what was going on. She glanced nervously over at Russ, who started chuckling. He reached over to pat me on the arm, and I guess based on that display of spousal support, she decided whatever was wrong with me hadn't been inflicted upon me by my man. She turned to me and asked, "You okay, honey?" I told her I was, indeed, not okay - that I'd just deposited our only child at kindergarten. (Only it came out, "KINdergaaaaaaarten!") It was obvious that things were headed to the scary place again. She bear-hugged me and said, "Aw, it'll be okay, little mama." She walked back into the kitchen and when she returned with our waters, she was carrying a plate of bacon. A little impromptu offering before our meal. Because apparently crispy strips of fat is the bandaid for distraught mothers.
As it turns out, it was.
By the time our breakfasts arrived, I was significantly less of a basket case.
After I was settled back at home and Russ had returned to work I started thinking, about Sophie and all she's been through to get to this point. In all the years of reflux, and feeding aversions, syringing formula, and countless doctor's appointments, spontaneous vomit launchings, feeding therapy, barf buckets, and dehydration, just EVERYTHING that was involved in caring for Sophs for all those years, I never imagined we would get to this point. Sophie. Going to school. With a $1.75 in her backpack for lunch in the cafeteria.
For most every other kindergartner on the planet, the cafeteria is just a normal part of A Day in the Life... But for Sophie, this day seemed impossible.
I remember when she was three and a half, still totally syringe-fed, still completely uninterested in drinking or eating on her own, or able to do so - had she been interested. I remember finally coming to a point one night where I just said, "Okay, Lord! If this is how it's going to be, then - okay. If I have to go to her kindergarten classroom periodically throughout the day with the syringe to keep her hydrated, so be it." I remember saying outloud, "If she never carries a lunchbox to school, it will be O-KAY!" I don't think I totally bought the easy-breezy attitude I was trying to sell myself, but I do remember acknowledging that as long as the kids didn't tease her mercilessly or call her 'Syringe Girl' or 'Barf Girl', I could make peace with all the other stuff. I distinctly recall reaching the point that night where I made the conscious decision to stop desperately searching for "the end of it" and just rest in what we had - a life-loving, vivacious little girl, who despite her overwhelming, exhausting health issues, was happy and, really, for all practical purposes "healthy".
That moment of acceptance was such a big thing for me.
Still, I had so many hopes for Kindergarten.
Thursday, that moment of independence came. And the magnitude of it hit me in such a rush. The gratitude. The years of struggle finally having come to fruition . The hope realized. The reflection of so many prayers answered so completely.
It was such an amazing feeling.
I bawled. And headed for the kitchen to see if we had any bacon.