I’ve been planning this day for weeks. A new lunch box, a first day of school outfit, immunization papers have been faxed and forms filled out. After a summer full of play dates, travel and dozens of sanity saving trips to our neighborhood park, I’m sending my sweet girl off to the structured days of snack time and group naps.
It’s another first for us. A new neighborhood, a new school and all of the challenges that come with parenting alone.
The teacher’s eyes were wide as I explained my little girl may not recognize her daddy in pictures and instead may wave excitedly to the sky. Blank picture frames hang on the wall waiting to be filled with the smiling faces of the student’s family photos. A safe place the teacher told us they take the kids if they’re feeling sad during the day. My heart sank as the other parents nodded at each other.
A family picture shouldn’t hurt the way it does. Mira will always be a newborn in her family photo. She doesn’t even know the baby on his knee. She picks out Mommy and just recently has paused to look at the man with us searching for his name. I tell her, “That’s Daddy” and she looks up to the sky.
She probably thinks her Daddy is a cloud or an airplane at this stage of the game but I’m hoping it’ll transition as time goes on that her Daddy is in heaven.
Meet the teacher night was awkward and heart wrenching as I watched the other parents tour the school. I overheard a mom quietly bickering with her husband as he started to carry their small child in the room and she was stuck still filling out the paperwork.
‘You know I’d like to see her face too, you know? I have to be the one doing the work while you get the fun stuff,’ she said with gritted teeth.
I had to laugh to myself, maybe there are benefits to doing it alone? There’s no one to irritate you.
But there’s also no one to blame.
So when I forgot to pay the power bill and power was shut off or can’t find Mira’s birth certificate, there is absolutely no one to blame but myself, and I hate it.
I really loved my role in our relationship. I was the overly passionate, always running late, slightly hot mess of the two of us. Joe was the one who handled things like organizing the files in our desk, getting new filters for the vacuum and printing off the right paperwork for things.
Things like registering a kid for school. He would have been awesome at all of this. I am not.
School is a scary place. I imagine it only gets scarier as the kids are really expected to perform outside the realms of play-doh and feeding baby dolls. School is a place where you just want them to be okay, to fit in, to feel safe and confident. You don’t want your kid to have just one parent’s name next to theirs in the directory. There’s this moment where I’m overcome with embarrassment, I feel judged and wonder what kind of storyline the other parents could be making up about me.
I’m 99% sure it’s my own insecurities but there is that 1% that makes me feel like less of a mother.
I watched my little warrior march right in the room and straight for the new toys and know she’s ready to face whatever this wacky world throws her way. I hope she can always hold on to some of the innocence and confidence her little toddler body walks with now.
As I leave her tomorrow and say goodbye, I hope my sweet gray eyed girl knows she can always wave to her daddy. That she knows a daddy in the sky is still a daddy and while the other kids will run to look at pictures, all she has to do is look up.