Today is January 29th. It’s 10:00 am and I’m heading for a tour of the elementary school my son will start in September. Like many type A parents, I’ve been preparing for this like I’m getting ready for a deposition.
I park and walk. It’s raining and I’m almost there before I glance up and see a “weapons free” sign on the school building. We don’t have one of those outside our house.
My heart starts to race and I realize… Things aren’t just going to change for my boy. They’re about to change for me, too. I’m not sure I’m ready.
I go through huge doors, walk up some steps toward two smiling women and then… burst into tears.
The smiling women are now worried. Are you ok?, one asks. I lie and silently will my heart to go back down from my throat and for the red to go out of my face.
The other woman looks at me. Her eyes tell me she knows. She knows what I’m thinking…
What if he’s shot by some lunatic with a gun?
What if his friends are mean to him?
What if he doesn’t have any friends?
What if he is bullied? He fails?
Doesn’t know the answer to the question?
Can’t figure out his homework?
I head into the meeting room and take a seat at one of the tables. The chairs are child size and I arrange myself as best as possible wishing I didn’t eat two extra muffins after dinner last night.
We listen to overviews from the PTA and teachers and then are herded in small groups to start the tour. We see lockers and music rooms and the library. We ask all the right questions…
How much recess? Is there art? Student/teacher ratios? Discipline policy?
We learn that no, there’s no guarantee you’ll get into the programs you want. No, you can’t pick your child’s teacher. No guarantees.
We nod and take notes like med school students on rounds. But I’m not really listening anymore. My heart is flooded and what I’m really asking in my head is…
What if you’re lying and the teachers aren’t nice?
What if someone shoves him in one of those lockers?
What if something bad happens to him and I’m not there?
Who will comfort him when the tears come?
Who will cheer him on when tries?
Who will really love him like I do when it all goes wrong?
Who will really take care of him? Who???????!!
The answer comes from a small voice in my heart. “I will.” It’s the reassuring voice of my Father, God. He reminds me:
“Blessed is he who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It doesn’t fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8
God never promised we’d always be happy and nothing bad would ever happen to us. This world is fallen. The heat comes. The drought comes. But He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31: 6-8) and will continue to work for good through us, his children.
I remember. My boy is not my own. He’s God’s. A gift on loan to me for the humbling, awesome privilege of taking care of him for a time. And oh, how that time flies!
What those people are always telling you? It’s true. The long days with small children might drag on forever, but the years go fast.
One minute you’re changing diapers, agonizing over sleep schedules, and over-engineering toilet training. The next you’re parking your car at the Kindergarten open house.
Nothing really prepares a mother for the first step in letting go of her child.
It’s the first of many small steps that lead your child down a road away from you. I ask God to help me let go.
Then I snap out of my daze and realize my group is gone. I’m left standing by myself next to this really big picture of the gym teacher.
It makes me laugh. My heart is lighter. It’s going to be ok. Not because nothing will go wrong. Things will go wrong and there are no guarantees.
But there is a good God. And God loves my boy. He won’t be alone.
(Please help me remember this when I drop him off on his first day of Kindergarten.)
What about you? Am I the only one already experiencing empty nest syndrome with a 5 year old?