A large part of me anticipated walking into their new school on Wednesday, setting their lunch boxes, backpacks, and jackets in their cubbies, and walking them over to a group of children they'd find wildly more entertaining than myself, forget my existence, and allow me to drift away to work for the next 7 hours. I thought they'd say "Hi, my name is Spencer Lily, do you want to play?" or "My name's Oliver Landon, I'm two!" Like they usually do at the park. I pictured them finding a table with crayons and sitting down, barely muttering "K bye mom!" I thought, if anything, Oliver would ask me not to leave and then get over it quickly when he saw how much fun was going on.
I was wrong. As I packed up their super extra pinterest mom quality organic natural vegetarian lunches, wrote their names in sharpie all over the insides of their shoes and jackets, I pictured all of these happy things to comfort myself and pretend that my little babes weren't completely reliant and used to being in the safety of my care at all hours of the day and night. And also, that I wasn't reliant on it too. I'm obsessed with my perfect tiny people, I don't know if that's not obvious. And we just, honestly, prefer being together. I'm not a helicopter mom, we're a helicopter family.
Turns out, as we entered the cutesy yellow building (yeah, no, we definitely went out of our way at 8 o'clock in the morning to our fave pink wall. Their school is yellow. Judge.) Spencer, the social butterfly who can't hold back from making friends, held back. We walked Ollie into his class and I knelt down to take his jacket off. Before his left arm was fully out, he just took off, letting it trail behind him and drop on the floor. His teacher walked over to him with an outstretched hand, he grabbed it, and they walked around the corner to all of his new friends. I sat there on my knees for a second, and then turned to Spencer who seemed eager to get to see her classroom.
We walked down the halls a way, all the while I'm thinking "okay, I can't hold her back because that'll give her self esteem issues. HOW can I get Oliver to skip Kindergarten so they never have to be separated ever again?" Damn these 14 months that separate my twins.
We reached her pre-school classroom, opened the door, and before I knew it she was climbing up my body like a koala bear, already screeching in terror. Her classroom hadn't settled in yet for the morning, so everyone was running and yelling and expelling energy that was downright alarming for my girl. I said "S, what's wrong? Look at all these kiddos!" and through tears, she yelled "they're TOO WILD, MOM". I held her close for a minute, kind of laughing, but mostly understanding her overwhelm. I asked her to grab a book for me to read, with the promise that I had to leave as soon as it was over.
Her teachers sat beside me on the floor introducing themselves, and she wanted no part in it. I told her that I had a first day of school too when I was a kid, and a little girl came and sat with us to tell Spence that she, too, cried on her first day but now she has a lot of fun.
I opted out of telling her about how, on my first day of school, Nana told me she was running to the restroom really quick and would be right back, and that I waited by the door for what felt like half the day waiting for her to come back from the potty when she was actually at work. (PS: lifelong trauma, thanks Mom.)
I brought them in at least a half-hour before work, knowing that at least one kid might need me extra. And we started reaching that time in her classroom. So I said dreaded goodbyes to my girl, who desperately did not want me to go. I told her I'd back so soon and to have her teachers read her letter I put in her bag, and then I left a crying three year old alone with a bunch of people neither of us knew.
I know that it's totally normal for emotions to be flying through the hallways of first days, but like, damn.
That's all I've got. It is really hard to leave your baby with strangers. And it's super extra double hard when that baby is actually a kid who talks and can beg you to stay. It feels painfully unnatural to separate from your person, do your own crying in the car while she cries in her classroom. To pull into work and contemplate "but do I reeeally need this job?" (the answer is yes.)
It was rough. And I called the front office three times. And they were fine. And they napped. And they ate their extra pinterest mom quality organic natural vegetarian lunches. And by the time I got there, they had forgotten about me. I wish that I could replay Oliver's look of shock when he saw me coming through the door. He had been running and chasing a little boy, smiling and giggling, and then his eyes met mine, and the smile turned to gasp, and the giggles turned to excited crying as he ran into my arms screaming MAAAAMAAAA. It was the greatest.
We found Spencer on the playground, waited for her to hug all her new friends goodbye, and then we went straight to the coffee shop for guilt smoothies. Every part of me wanted to snuggle up and promise "I'll never leave you ever again."
But I had to do it again the very next day.
Day two of the first week of school was even harder than day one, because they both cried, and they both asked me to stay, and they both asked me to hold them, and they both had to be held by their teacher while I backed out of the closing door saying "I love you I love you I love you", and then I cried in the parking lot again.
But day three, they barely cared. They were like "k, see ya." And it was awesome. My little lady painted me a bumble bee, and my baby went diaperless for a whole day. I picked up kids at the end of the day.
The first week of school was half a nightmare. But they got through it with stickers, guilt smoothies, and macarons. And I got through it with late night love-filled lunch packing, putting prizes and surprises in every little corner, and picking out outfits. Every day I've asked them how their day has gone and what they learned, but I'm learning too.
I'm learning to stop spotting them while they climb playground ladders. I'm learning to stop pointing to where the puzzle pieces go. I'm learning to allow them to clean up their own messes a little. To run just a little bit further out of my view, and be a little bit more dangerous (HUGE regret. Please note the cast on Spencer...). I'm learning to allow all of the emotions to play themselves out. I'm learning to stop helping before I'm asked for help. I'm learning to allow my babies to grow. And it's the hardest first week of school assignment ever.