I steered my car into a parking space and as I turned the key, Margot was already unbuckled from her car seat helping her little sister unbuckle. After five years of negotiating straps, clips and belts, of slipping sleeping kids into and out of harnesses, it is no longer my job.
We met on the passenger side where I dutifully reminded the girls of the parking lot traffic. I didn't need to. They were already skipping to the sidewalk, having looked both ways. I can put my arm around Margot's shoulder when we walk. Wasn't it just last summer that I mostly carried both kids? Or, was that two years ago? Ruby ran ahead, our invisible umbilical cord slack with her confidence and independence. Soon, so soon it'll unravel into memories of my little girl who wanted nothing but my arms all day, every day.
I feel sad sometimes. About this relentless growth, about the days twisting into months, about my blurry recollection of breastfeeding, first words, hanging diapers on the line, wobbly heads, mashed avocado. I let my melancholy bring early-onset nostalgia for what I am loving right now. I miss tomorrow.
Margot starts kindergarten in the fall, a subject that has been examined thoroughly in our home. I've read books and blogs. I've talked to home schoolers, public schoolers, private schoolers. I've spent hours with my own brain on long runs. I'm unsettled about it, in educational purgatory. Seasoned parents have opinions and I eagerly listen to them—especially those who understand their choice is not necessarily the best choice for everyone, especially those who understand the subtle, tender, unique construct of every human and every family.
Last night I had dinner with a good friend. We lit a fire in her backyard, sat under the starry sky and talked about the big stuff. She asked me about school and I said I didn't care to roll the stone around anymore. She'd already helped me turn that sharp rock smooth with hours of conversation. “Ok,” she said. “Then tell me what thought brings you the most relief and happiness about this fall?”
What brings me the most comfort? That our choice is only the beginning. We aren't deciding our daughters' educational journey for the next 12 years. We are deciding to begin in August of 2013, exactly like we decided to begin December 18, 2007 at 10:06am. I trust the beginning and I trust what it will lead to. I don't need to know what happens next. This is Margot's story to write and to tell. I am here for her, with her, by her, because of her. I am relieved and happy to walk with my arm around her capable shoulders. I am so thankful for this day, everyday. I will listen, I will love. I will let myself feel sad and I will take a deep, intentional gulp of today's joyful oxygen.
Together, we will begin.