It FEELS like I've left an arm somewhere. Or a pancrease. Or a lung. Something really important that I should have kept track of but didn't, you know? I've left my oldest kid in a grade one class and my middle kid in a kindergarten class and my youngest is sleeping. WHAT do people DO with themselves when they have HOURS AND HOURS to themselves in the middle of the day? I've completely forgotten. I feel so FREEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!
I dropped Matthew off for his first full day of real kindergarten (yesterday was a mini session with half the class) at noon. Oh my goodness, was he ever CUTE! So official! So serious! So enthusiastic about having his backpack and reading his name and giving his teacher his homework--a drawing of what he did over the summer!! It was amazing. I didn't anticipate being emotional at all today--after all, yesterday was his very very first day of kindergarten, but for some reason today was less rushed and more peaceful, and it was just Matthew and I, and after I dropped him off I peeked in the window of his class and watched him happily run to the circle and sit down to listen attentively to the teacher he already loves, and I started BAWLING. Like cover your mouth with your hand, snot pouring, making noise BAWLING. I had to sit in the car with my forehead on the steering wheel for awhile before I could see well enough to drive myself home afterwards. All I could think was, "I did it. I accomplished a huge feat. I've done a good thing. I can't believe I got here." It has been almost four years since we adopted Matthew, and for so long I never thought the day would come when a happy, well adjusted, normal, joyful, good little boy would go off to kindergarten ready for the next stage in his life. Kindergarten is a big year. Those first five years are supposed to be a literal foundation for the rest of their emotional, social, intellectual, and spiritual lives, and I've DONE IT! I survived it. I did it, and I did it well. Not perfectly, by ANY stretch of the imagination, but WELL. I know I've done it well because Matthew is JOYFUL, and happy, and authentic, and well adjusted, and normal, and good, and cooperative, and enthusiastic about life. I just couldn't see this day ever coming, but it did. I did it, I did it, I did it. He's not killing neighbourhood cats or burning peoples' gardens or torturing squirrels or bullying other kids or massively unhappy. He's a normal, happy, well adjusted boy. Holy cow.
Last November when I went to see a counsellor for my anxiety, Matthew came up. Matthew always comes up. I described a bit of how spirited he is and how difficult to parent sometimes, and my very mixed up feelings about him--lots of guilt, anxiety, remorse, and frustration--and in particular I described worrying about his future. She asked me, "Do you ever picture him growing up to be a normal, happy man who goes to school, gets a job, gets married, and has lovely children? Maybe even adopted children, since his experience of being adopted was a positive one?" I was stunned. The answer was absolutely no. Never once in three years of being Matthew's momma had I pictured anything in his future but identity crises, anger, drugs, homelessness, violence, alcoholism, estrangement from family, and possible deep ramifications like him raping or murdering someone. Yes, seriously. This is what raged in my head. I can't believe I lived like that for so long. No wonder our relationship was difficult! I was fighting an inevitably unhappy and violent future that would be at once beyond my control and yet all my fault.
That day I stopped. I put my foot down. No more torture. I started to see Matthew as he really is: a happy, well adjusted, NORMAL BOY, and I started to picture him as an interesting and smart and entertaining teenager, and a happy, well adjusted, funny, employed, married, normal adult. I dropped the weight of the world from my shoulders that day, I tell you. Never once since then have I pictured his future as anything but normal. He'll have some ups and downs, and maybe some identity issues surrounding being adopted and a racial minority in his own home, and he will sometimes be happy and sometimes be sad. But in all, he will figure out his own path through it all, like we all do, and God will go with him, and in the end he will be happy. And normal. And interesting to talk to. And incredibly rewarding to have in my life.
Today marked that 5 year line; one of many imaginary lines in the sand that we mark as parents as goals reached or accomplishments met, which we either anticipate or which sneak up on us. He's five in a few days. He is in kindergarten. He is happy. He is normal. He is good. I made it, I made it, I made it.
For so many years when I struggled to get through the next hour let alone day let alone week parenting a baby and toddler Matthew I NEVER THOUGHT today would EVER COME.
I did it, I did it, I did it, I did it, I did it, I did it.....with Grace and Love and Compassion and Friendship and Family and Support and GOD and YOU and my counsellor and some really great books and my church and MY HUSBAND and my other children, I did it.
Thank you Jesus, thank you friends, and thank you universe. I'm done the first five years with Matthew, and I've done them well. Holy crap, I can't believe it.