Today was MM’s first day back at school after the weekend. It was hard for me to watch him leave for the bus this morning. I smiled, ignoring my fears for his sake, and told him to have a good day and that I loved him. I might have somewhat frantically added “Be safe” and “Make good choices” as he was halfway out the door. He and my husband laughed and off they went. I reasoned with myself that I’d see him in just three hours when BB and I went to visit the classroom for our weekly Class Volunteer time.
Leaving the house this morning it was lightly snowing. We have a fairly sizable snowstorm predicted over the course of the next two days and I was disappointed to see it starting early. I hoped it was warm enough that it wouldn’t accumulate and I ignored the tiny voice in my head that asked “is this a premonition of things to come?” I reminded myself that it was just snow and that between my snow tires and my husband’s four wheel drive that we’d be fine. I drove to his school, got out and unbuckled BB and we walked inside. I was filled with dread as we walked to the door. I have never felt this feeling before, just trying to walk in a building. It was the longest walk of my life, internally, as I fought with my emotions and even questioned if they were real or if I was just being overly dramatic. Truth? I wanted to turn around and run back to my car and drive away. I felt like I was marching my daughter and myself to our doom, no matter how absurd I acknowledged those feelings to be. I tried to tell myself bravely that seeing MM in class, happy and smiling, would make me feel better or that at the very least, we’d all be together – morbid, I know.
My fears were unnecessary of course. We had a wonderful time in class, I gave his teacher a Christmas gift from MM and I, I helped the kids in his class make Christmas cards for their families and for an hour I almost forgot that I’d been afraid to walk inside the building. I made a point of acknowledging every step that his school has taken to keep their students safe. When I buzzed the intercom to be let into the building the woman in the office asked for my name and business at the school before letting me inside. I have never had to do that until today and you might think it would irritate me, but it actually gave me the strength I needed to walk inside. After walking to the office and signing in (like I always do), I walked to MM’s classroom and found his teacher had already left to get the kids from their art class. The door was shut and locked, the lights inside turned off. Another new development that I was in total favor of. I sat outside the class with BB and waited for the class to return and I turned over these bits of information in my mind, letting my heart and nerves take notice of how seriously my little Wisconsin elementary school had responded to what happened in Connecticut on Friday. Their actions did not go unnoticed or unappreciated by me.
I know that sometimes all of our efforts to keep our children safe will not protect them. We guard safely for the things in which we have control and shout like hell when the things we didn’t have control over go wrong. We look for new ways to protect our babies and keep them safe. We do whatever it takes and we adapt and change with the times. It may not be enough. But it’s all we can do. Respond, change and move forward. Walk through the door. Breathe in deeply and find a way to calm the nerves. Take inventory of all the things we can do right, and do them. Then let go.
My son came home this afternoon delighted that he got to make a dreidel at school today, excited to tell me all about it. He did his homework, asked for a snack and attempted to play quietly while his sister finished her nap. It was a good day and we all made it through in spite of my fears. And tomorrow I’ll do it all over again.