little (and big) leavings

Anna with her buddy Skylar waiting to go into school.

Today is Anna's first day of kindergarten. I was a little teary (actually a lot teary) as I dropped her off. I had to hide in the hallway and brush the tears away so she wouldn't see me. My friend Sasha saw me out there and she said, "Jenny, I know, I know--she's beyond your control now."

I've generally rejoiced as Anna has become increasingly independent--and the way this also liberates me, but there was a certain sobriety about this morning. I'm starting to grasp how fast our children actually grow and how sweet and fleeting our time with them is, despite the sometimes eternal afternoons and relentless nights. But they do grow--Anna has grown--and is growing--quickly.

This morning and last night I wanted to weep and ask her forgiveness for all the ways in which I failed her when she was smaller, when she needed me most. I wanted to sing Willie Nelson's "You Were Always on My Mind" as I headed out the door of her classroom. But that's not, of course, what she needed.

She didn't need my remorse, my tears or my fears. She needed me to convey confidence--to act as if this leaving, like the hundreds of larger and smaller ones to come are just part of the process, a process I (mean to) trust.

Frederick Buechner captures this bittersweet mixture well in a quote about getting his girls off to school:

Creation is underway, breakfast is underway, steam from the tea kettle is fogging up the windows . . . Somebody is crying while somebody else says it is her own fault that she is crying. We break fast together, we break bread together fast. The clock on the wall over my wife's head is ticktocking our time away, time away. Soon it will be time to leave for school, soon it will be time to leave.


Bethany Torode said...

Anna looks so beautiful. That is the perfect shirt for that girl if I've ever seen one. What a charmer.

The line that always comforts me in all these moments is that Hem one, "I can still see the hem of your dress, and the comb as it's parting your hair, and the person I held is still there." The baby you carried is still in her, and will always be there, and sometime after this life we'll all be able to experience the beauty of each other in every stage simultaneously.

Jacoby said...

Jenny, I'm Reminded of a quote, "Leaving, how Sweet the Sorrow"


Ser said...

Oh, Jenny, this post is so poignant. It is just how I felt on Luke's first day.

And I laughed out loud at the thought of you singing Willie Nelson on the way out of her classroom.

I wish I was there so we could drink coffee and rejoice and mourn our little ones starting kindergarten.

Jenny said...

Hey Bethany, Jacoby and Ser,

Thanks so much for your comments! Hearing from you all makes me feel a little less alone as I send Anna out into the world!


Dove Knits said...

Wowie. I remember Anna when she was 2! I can't believe she's already in real big-girl school.

We should get together, sometime, before December!

Lucy said...

This is a beautiful post. I love the Buechner quote.

Julia said...

Jenny, reading this made me get emotional and teary too. Ever since Esme was born, the cliche "you will always be my baby" runs through my mind over and over and I think: "It's so, soooo true." I know, it's cheesy, but I can't help marveling over the truth of those words. Middle aged women are constantly coming up to me in public and asking about Esme, and then they say, "My babies are in college now (or married, or whatever)." Seriously, about a dozen different strangers have made this comment to me. But I actually understand and sympathize with them perfectly. I'm sure I will feel the same way.

The picture is great, and what a perfect t-shirt for Anna on her first day of school.

Julian said...

"Princess" and "Social Butterfly"? :-)

silver lining said...

reaching out to you from the 3rd floor. you've turned me on to blogging at the end of the day. Yours is so lovely and comforting. I visited Ser's too, and now I feel refreshed and connected and can put my own thoughts in a better perspective.

Marji ... looking for a silver lining in everyday events