Friday, August 29, 2014

Back to School

Note: This post was actually written a year ago when I first began teaching at Addie's school. But, I sat on it, fretted about it, and finally decided to roll with it. Especially since these days I've been feeling like I'm right back where I was. Sigh.

It’s no secret that the first week of school can be a bit of a shock to the system.

Gone are the days of spending half the day in your jammies, pinching snacks from the fridge at 10 in the morning, and lounging around the pool, or in my case, lounging on the couch with Dr. Oz and Dr. Phil.

Nope, come 8 a.m., it’s go time.

Go time for me came and went a little over a week ago.

I’m not going to lie, I had a hard time getting out of the gate.

And this had nothing to do with school itself.

It was everything else.

That’s the funny thing about grief (and I hate using that word – funny – because, really, there’s nothing funny about it). People tell you you’re strong and there are times you start to believe it a little bit and then you find yourself pinning all these inspirational messages on Pinterest and really believing it.

And then you crumble.

For me that happened two days before school was supposed to start.

At open house.

Well, after open house, technically.

During open house I stood there smiling, my throat in a vise, as I watched seventh-graders and their parents struggle with locker combinations, empty backpacks filled with school supplies, and move from classroom to classroom meeting this year’s teachers, all the while thinking about the little girl who won’t ever set foot in the seventh-grade hallway.

Let’s face it, two days before school starts isn’t exactly an opportune time to start doubting whether you can do this. Especially since Pinterest had been telling me I could do this all summer long.

Stupid Pinterest.

Stupid me.

Stupid cancer.

And then, school started.

My first go with a group of Addie’s classmates was a little awkward.

It was a five-minute exchange before they checked out books.

I was nervous. So I snapped into teacher mode. I may have even avoided eye contact.

And that felt awful.

Who was this person standing in front of them?

It wasn’t me.

And who were these kids staring back at me?

Her friends. The girls who suckered me into filming a staged video that they were certain would win them $10,000 on America’s Funniest Home Videos (it didn’t). The girls who convinced me kittens were trapped inside our walls (they weren’t). The girls who swore they beat Scott and me in a dance-off on Just Dance 2 (they most certainly did not). 

Their Mii’s are still on our Wii console, their notes and phone numbers and proclamations of being BFF’s are secured safely among Addie’s keepsakes, and their acts of friendship - in the face of the absolute worst - will forever be written on my heart.  

These are her friends.

Luckily, the next go-around was markedly better. I kicked the teacher to the curb and decided to just go with me.

I asked for a show of hands to see who already knew who I was.

Silly question.

I’m Addie’s Mom.

And I can do this.


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