So, we have been through this before… Mama’s. What is this that I am feeling?
You started school this week and unlike before, I am super emotional today. I am still crying. By myself. In my office. Wondering why, and unable to stop…
Was it the way you clung to me as you realized I was putting you down and you were staying behind? I can still see you in my mind, holding the pink bottle we got from Uncle Sizo at your baby shower. I remember those bottles so clearly because he told me not to tell him what colors he can buy for his niece, and he wanted to buy pink, so he did. I had said STRICTLY no pink. Today that bottle symbolizes familiarity, home, it was what you had in this completely unfamiliar place. Had I known we would have them today, I would not have jokingly hit his hand but hugged him so tightly and told him what he has done for us, and let him know how grateful that a gift bought in haste (knowing Sizo), would really mean ‘home’ to you. Thank you Guncle. I am grateful to you.
Was it the way you still kissed me goodbye, even though you didn’t want to, lips pursed, tears welling up in your eyes. Nothing but trust, trust that I would never desert you, and even though you were on the verge of tears, you still went into your classroom like a soldier and didn’t even look back. Did you not want me to see you cry, baby? Because I cried- when I finally got to my car. I could not let you see me cry because I need to be mom. I got to the office and I waited for my phone to ring, to hear the call to come and pick you up, so that I could rush on over and do just that. So I could hug you a little and tell you that school will be great and that you are going to be a real trooper! So that I could tell myself that, really, because you will be just fine before I am. I know. I am now taking my lead from you.
Could it be that I am just so emotional because I know that I want you to have a life of adventure, and now I see that some of those adventures will be without me? That you will make friends, and after a very eventful three weeks where we have been together almost every hour, you are now going off to school where you will be with other people who will love you and get to know you and see more of your smiles than I will. I miss your smile when I am not with you. I am told it is my smile. I think it is my father’s smile with my eye characteristics. So much of what makes you, you, I see in me. I love your smile.
Could it be that I felt the sting of bitter- sweet tears as I took out your brand new size four shoes? The shoes are a hand-me- down from Gabby and Zoe, like a few other things in your closet. Zoe never got to wear the shoes because she was too big before Aunty Phu could pull them out of the closet. Though you are still a size 3, you are outgrowing size 3. I felt so proud of you as I bit the tag off them this morning, still in my underwear because I was procrastinating the moment I would have to wake you up and try and be excited about school, so you could be excited about school, even though, a little piece of me is still wailing. I looked at those shoes for a moment longer than I usually look at your new size shoes, as I cried, knowing I could not put off the inevitable. I want you to grow and spread your wings, but I am your mom and I also want to spend every waking moment with you so that I never miss any of your new words, or your really cute idiosyncrasies. I got those shoes from Aunty Phu about a year ago, very happy that you and I have big sisters who look out for us, but I did not know they would be first- day- of- school shoes. Neither did she. I love those shoes for carrying you through your day. I love Phu for always being so thoughtful and remembering us. I am so grateful for your mom’s OT and Phili for providing me with each other and therefore Phu. Who knew that 10 years later there would be a Gabby and Zoe who only want to be big sisters to you and carry you everywhere, including to school on your first day, through the simple gift of shoes.
I am told you cried a little, and then came out of your shell. They have a nickname for you already and have bumped you up a class- because you are so smart. That makes me so happy, Mambo. I look forward to hearing all about school, everyday and seeing that you were just fine after your first day, made my heart smile.
I always want to be the first to cheer you on, and see you do things and I have to admit today, that I wont be able to hold onto that privilege for much longer. I am so happy that I have gotten to teach you words and see you ‘Touch your ears’, and ‘Touch your eyes’ and ‘Touch your nose’ and more recently, your chin, arms, legs, hands and feet. I am so happy you are going to go to pre-school and will learn more and more, and even though I now have to share the role of Teacher, it means I can take that time and focus more on my role of Number One Cheerleader so that I can never miss those beats, and still cheer louder than anyone you will ever know. Because I am still your mom, and that is what matters.
I am going to dry my tears now little girl.
I love you with all that I am,