I have been asked by a number of people if I cried while dropping Addison off for her first official preschool morning (the reason for the unheard TWO POSTS in one day!). Truth is, I have been trying all day to pin down the experience. It was so wonderful and yet so...unsettling.
I was excited because it was the beginning of something amazing- a bright future ahead of freshly sharpened pencils each fall, backpack carrying, school activities, learning opportunities, chances for new relationships.
I was sad because as I drove away I had an empty carseat in the back and somehow the car felt lopsided.
I was happy because she was so ready for the change. As a very social little girl, she thrives in this sort of setting. She loves to get dressed up and go PLAY, especially with other kids. She's worked hard in therapy the past three years, and she was deserving of a graduation.
I was nervous because all of a sudden I wondered if I was supposed to bring a birthday treat for her first day? What about Valentines Day- are there rules about what I'm supposed to do? The immense pressure and the new occasions to feel like I'm "not doing enough" overwhelmed me.
I was ecstatic to see Addison run into her classroom like she was born to be queen of this room.
I was nostalgic as I remembered everything we have been through to 1. fight for her to be healthy enough for this to be a reality 2. teach her the skills necessary to be able to fend for herself in school. We've been through a lot together, and when I close my eyes I can still see her in her NICU isolette. I can still smell her brand new skin that was such a weird color and smell for a newborn because of how sick she was. I can still feel the excitement of rounding the corner at the hospital to visit with her even though she was completely unresponsive. The worry and fear of her future combined with my mixed feelings towards Down syndrome in those early days are still in my distant memory.
And as I drove away in my lopsided car, peeking a glance at a grinning Carter Henry in the review mirror, the sadness and nostalgia won over, producing a few bittersweet tears.
I've had my share of moments of frustration with Down syndrome, and yet in that moment I felt like the luckiest mom in the world. As those tears fell, I pictured her tiny legs swallowed up by the warm pink boots that she insisted that she wear. I predicted more whiplash for her aide as Addison ran excitedly around the room. I could still smell the bath-fresh smell from her hair from that morning. I knew with confidence that she was owning her preschool experience, and I was proud of her. I pushed aside the memory of the history of hard times, and I embraced the joy of the present.
We're just getting started as a mother/daughter team. The future might be scary at times. The past holds some bitter memories. The path is strewn with reasons to be frustrated. But when she ran out of the preschool room looking for me and shyly smiling when she spotted me- none of that mattered. She was happy.
When the special education teacher thanked me for trusting them with my treasure; when Addison fell asleep after only thirty seconds in her carseat; when I unpacked her lunch box and visualized her at the snack table pushing away her food because she was way too excited to eat; when she wrapped her arms around my neck as I carried her sleeping form inside; when I looked through the pictures I hurriedly snapped before we left...it made me realize how incredibly blessed I am to be in the now with Addison, enjoying this experience with her.
It's just preschool. It's just a couple of mornings a week. It's nothing. And yet it's everything.
So yes, I cried. The truth is out.
p.s. apparently Parents.com thinks that my blog is "Most likely to have you reaching for the tissues"...if you feel up to giving me a vote...I would probably love you forever: