On premature birth, kindergarten & fears from an alternate reality
I’ve written drafts of this in my head for months now, and nothing sounds right. I’m honestly not sure what “right” is. Here goes nothing.
My babies started kindergarten this week.
Well. It hasn’t truly started because their school starts kindergarten on staggered days – small groups of kids run through a full day with their teacher and see the ropes, meet their teachers and see the various rooms for art/P.E./music/computers/Spanish/library and generally get to test out what kindergarten will be like, minus the full-blown chaos of herding 23 5(ish)-year-olds.
Kindergarten teachers, you are saints. Let’s just get that out of the way right now.
Tomorrow will be their first day with the full class, then we have three days off for Labor Day weekend, then they’ll really start kindergarten.
I have Feelings about this.
I probably-maybe-most-likely have some Feelings left over from my weeks as a NICU mom, too.
When my babies were born 12 weeks early, I had no choice but to blindly trust a hospital full of strangers to keep them alive, help them grow and develop as they would had I stayed pregnant.
I was forced to trust strangers to keep my babies alive because my body couldn’t do it anymore.
(It should be noted that I paused here to simmer on that last sentence. Oof.)
No one is forcing me to send my kids to kindergarten – don’t get me wrong. This is a choice Rob and I have made after discussing the decision from every possible angle for more years than we have been parents. Ultimately, we decided this school was the best for everyone involved.
Still, in my ideal world, I would homeschool, keep my babies close in our simple, family-centered lives, and all would turn out like magic and sparkles.
My ideal world and reality don’t exactly match, and like a mature adult, I am mentally pouting because that just sucks.
I find myself once again trusting a building full of (experienced, educated, trained, remarkable), strangers to keep my babies alive, help them grow and develop as they would – had I been able to homeschool and do the job myself.
And like I still carry (maybe) unrealistic guilt from not having a full-term pregnancy, I am packing on (maybe) unrealistic guilt from not being able to educate my kids on my own.
I know the two aren’t even close to being the same thing. I know this. Knowing doesn’t change how I feel, though, no matter how much I try to force my brain to snap into reality.
Nearly six years and three beautifully healthy, strong, happy kids later, I am still working through what my emotions went through because of premature birth. My brain manages to live on parallel planes, remembering all the fears I had back then while seeing in real life that most of those fears never came to fruition. Maybe the reality of healthy, strong, happy kids will someday snap straight the memory of fearing every possible What If that raced through my mind nonstop during the first year or so of their lives. Maybe it never will.
I can only hope to have three kids who love going to school (most of the time, at least), be a reality that helps snap straight the fears and guilt I am connecting with choosing this path for them.
I am a mess, but as a friend pointed out the other night, this thing we call life is just like going on a bear hunt. You can’t go under it. You can’t go over it. You need to go through it.
I’ll see you at school, friends.
You are an amazing mother and I know that you will all get through this phase. You have been present for them since the beginning and that won’t change. Hugs to you!
You are a fabulous mother who thinks and feels and loves deeply. Only a few people know what all went into your early weeks as a mama and how amazing and miraculous and wondrous the whole journey has been. Your dear sweet strong children are filled with life and strenth and joy because of you and their daddy. Pause often to wallow in the gratitude and sentiment and yes even the fear. There is nothing like it anywhere in this world. Thank God. Keep loving. I appreciate your ability to put it into words to share.