I want to remember who we were today.
Today was a Wednesday at the beginning of June, 2015. C had a week off from PDO last week, and today she returned to school. It was her first day of the summer session and she transitioned from the two-year-old classroom to the three-year-old preschool classroom, aptly titled “Monkey Class” because what else do you call a room full of three-year-olds? She had new teachers and a ton of new classmates. Only a couple of the kids from her old class transitioned with her, and they were kids she doesn’t seem to be friends with.
She said “I don’t want to go to school” no fewer than 75 times before we actually got there.
She started crying the moment we pulled up. Tears rolled down her little cheeks and she clutched to White Bunny. She said she wanted to go home – Pweeeese can I go home? Pweeeeease? – and my heart hurt for her. I wanted to cry too. I wanted the nice PDO director to come out and talk to me as gently and reassuringly as she talks to C when she has a hard drop-off. Through the grace of something bigger than me, I kept myself together; I’m getting better at taking these separations in strides. Nevertheless I made fun of the situation on Facebook because sometimes boiling down a stressful, jam-packed moment to a status update or a tweet is the easiest way to cope with the comedy of errors that is parenting a dramatic toddler.
I felt sad, though, and the voice of doubt was screaming at me.
Right before lunch, I got a call.
“First, let me say that nothing is wrong. I just wanted you to know that C has had a couple accidents this morning. Don’t worry – she’s not crying and she insists that she doesn’t want you to pick her up, but I just wanted you to know. She went through her change of clothes and now she’s wearing one of the painting t-shirts.”
I drove home at lunch and picked up a change of clothes and shuttled them back to school. I wanted to cry the whole time, but I can’t pinpoint exactly why. It was that sense of despondency, that please-let-me-just-fall-into-a-pit-that-swallows-me-up-no-really-I’m-being-serious feeling I’m learning to identify as something that is not me. Through therapy, I’m learning to manage it.
It is not my fault that my daughter wet her pants. It was not my fault the first time, and it was not my fault the second time, either.
It is not my fault that she had anxiety about her first day in a new room.
I am a good mother. Making light of stressful situations on Facebook does not undo that.
I am a good person.
I pulled up in front of the school right as her class was leaving the playground to come inside for their naps. Near the end of the line was my little girl in a giant white t-shirt and an orange ribbon that through some sort of maternal sorcery I was able to affix to her ribbon-impervious head that morning. She was happy. She was OK. She didn’t see me, and when she later overheard me talking to B tonight about me dropping her stuff off, she understood that I came to her school but wasn’t upset that she didn’t see me.
The first thing she said when I got home today was this: “I had a good day at school.”
I want to remember who I was today because I’m still fragile but I am OK.