I sat in my icy, cold A/C minivan, parked along the circle drive to Stewart Elementary waiting for them to return. The list for classroom assignments just posted against gridded glass, I waited to see their faces. Jovie babbled behind me in blurts and gaps of silence.
I studied as children of all ages marched and skipped, twirling their summer dresses as they went always holding the hand of a grown-up, usually a mother. The excitement was real. The mothers hugging and laughing and collecting in pools of conversation only to burst away in a hurried manner. School is about to begin.
I couldn't quite see Cal or Jack around the corner, and I wasn't sure if all five of us got out if we would look too much like rookies with my first Kindergartener. So I waited for them. My cheeks all clammy and cool partly from the humidity of late August and partly from the nerves I suppose.
I watched mothers who wore too much makeup and dyed their hair too blonde, entertaining a brood of young boys, quite clearly the "popular mom". I watched another mother with daughter close beside her, timid and with few words of response to the other parents skitter across the sidewalk. I watched a bubbly, large woman squeeze her daughter several times into her great bosom, picking and swiping her daughters bangs and tucking in her bra straps beneath her small neon yellow tank top.
I wondered about myself. Who am I as a Mother? Who will I become as I age? How will I love my children as they grow and change? How will I love myself? My husband? Have I done a good enough job so far?
I shift the air vent to the left and up, away from my cold cheeks. I catch a glimpse of the boy that was once that little baby I held so close. His face is bright and sweat across his brow sharpens the ends of the hair stuck to his forehead. He skips a little too, still holding onto his Daddy's hand.
I think of my life's work. Pouring hours into worry... Did he eat enough? Is he eating healthy enough? Should I give him organic baby food? Should I let him cry it out? When to discipline and when to let it go? Am I giving him everything he needs? Is he learning enough?
I think of the way God led me through every hard decision. Guiding me, nudging me and giving me the strength to do the hardest job I've ever had to do. I remember the days I closed the bathroom door and cried. Blubbering and wiping tissues all stained black in a neat little pile on the counter beside me. Audibly asking God for help in short command sentences. I remember how I stood up, pulled up my big girl pants and went back to work. Mom work. And how always, the strength came, even if it was just enough. It came.
The sliding door zips open and three happy fellas pile in. The idea of Miss Crockett seems a vague notion to his wandering eyes I can tell, but I also see a child on the brink of discovery and new worlds. The unknown is calling to him and I am so proud of his bravery.