I didn’t think it was possible, but we did it. We checked off all the things on our back-to-school to-do list. Supplies purchased and dropped off—check. Special first day outfit laid out in your room—check. Teeth brushed and in bed on time (sort of)—check. Now that your first day jitters are asleep, mine are taking over.
I busy my hands with school lunch preparations. Grabbing Goldfish instead of dwelling on whether your teacher will be the right fit or who you’ll play with at recess. I spread the peanut butter on your sandwich carefully, from edge to edge—because maybe this is the only part of your day I can control. After all, I can’t filter what others say to you or who comes into your school. Then I put each food item in its proper place, hoping to preserve and protect it until you eat lunch. I crave assurances of the very same for you. If I do the right things and pray my guts out, maybe you’ll be preserved and protected from the time I drop you off to the time I pick you up. Your curiosity and playfulness won’t be squished. Your friendly smile won’t go stale. Your trust and innocence won’t be broken.
I grab a Post-It and a Crayola marker for your lunchbox note. There’s so much I want to say. I love you deeper and wider than any ocean you’ll learn about during science class. I admire you more than everyone in your history book. Parenting is a billion times harder than fractions but you make my life whole. I wish I could write a five-paragraph essay apologizing for my shortcomings and expressing my confidence in your bright, bright future.
But instead, I write, “Have an amazing first day! I love you!” Then I tuck the note next to your juice box, zip everything tight, and push the marker lid until it clicks.