This may all sound so silly, but remember the weekly show Fantasy Island? It use to come on every Saturday night right after Love Boat. The guy who ran the island would look to all the employees as the small plane was landing with guests and what would he say...? "Smiles everyone, smiles."
Last night I drove Emily with two other girls to a barbecue for incoming freshman for the college she will be attending. I got to be the driver, listening for an hour as the girls chit chatting about the excitements, goals, and hopes for their future. Smiles mommy, just smile. My heart swelled as if I had three daughters not one. When we got there it was very cool. I walked in and saw all the parents and kids and immediately all the kids piled around a table, and kept adding another chair as another student showed up. The parents all sat at various tables, and for the most part the table was painfully quiet.
I am not shy or quiet, but I just smiled. I knew if I were to start any dialogue I might just break down and cry. How on earth would I get through this evening without bawling like a big mommy baby. Then it dawned on me, everyone else had that quiet forced kind of smile. They were fighting back the tears just as I was. You know that stiff frozen smile. I watched as all these kids fit right in with each other and there we parents were, just smiling.
Conversation eventually did break out, with one parent saying it would be best that no one drove near or around her car once she dropped her daughter off as she would be bawling all the way home.......home lingered in my ears as I took a deep breath and remembered how lovely I wanted my make up to stay looking. So I just smiled again and could only nod. Not my typical jump right in and agree that between the two of us the roads might not be safe. The barbecue was lovely, the school had some representatives share and back home we came. All three girls chatted about the evening and I just drove and smiled.
This morning Ethan had his first grade orientation. We made a special date of just the two of us to leave early to shop for school supplies. We talked about all his old friends we would get to see, and his new backpack. I just wanted to cry. Why do I want to cry? Is it midlife approaching? No I cried when each child went off to school. Ethan proudly walked into his class and was enthusiastic about his desk, placement of his school supplies and reconnecting with his friends. It was all I could do not to cry. The smell of the building brought back so many memories. Emily and Ethan share the same first grade teacher. The teacher's sweet face ready as if this were her first class ever.
I think for me the tears represent having arrived at the next step of life in our mothering of each individual child. Reflecting on how we even got to this point with all the challenges. It's a tearful kind of reward giving, we give ourselves because we did survive and we are now here. We are handing our children into the hands of someone who is now going to pour into our children education and all that involves. It's trusting the decisions made up to this point in mothering and now saying I trust you, the school and the teacher to continue what we as parents have worked so hard at.
So I survived with a bold and strong smile the emotions of orientations for a college bound young lady and a first grade boy. Life is good....smiling!!!