There are many big firsts as we watch our children grow; First tooth, first roll, first crawl, first steps. As we watch them grow, we all tell ourselves that time just needs to slow down but they keep growing nevertheless. Then you blink a few times and it's time for kindergarten.
In a world of Pinterest creativity, not only is the first day of school marked with nerves, excitement, and a few tears, but it's also marked with cute and fun ways to photographically journal the first day of school. A quick Pinterest or Facebook search will show hundreds of examples...
There is the chalkboard sign, the big class of 20?? shirts, homemade banners, the "what I want to be when I grow up" questionnaires, sidewalk drawings, balloons, the list goes on and on and on.
The first day of kindergarten is, hands down, one of the biggest firsts in a child's life. And rightfully so. It begins a path that they will spend the next 13+ years of their lives following and will fundamentally shape who they become.
Avery was born June 6, 2012 making her a member of the class of 2030 and generation alpha. Avery's 5th birthday was this summer and today Avery's classmates started the first day of their scholastic careers.
Today was her first day of kindergarten and yet, I don't have any cute Pinterest inspired photos to share. My front porch looks the same as every other day. I didn't stay up way too late trying to be the crafty mom creating first day photo props. We didn't have to calm first day nerves and try to hide our tears as we watched her brunette pony tail bounce away into her classroom. There weren't new first day traditions started. The supplies intended for her still sit on the shelves at Target. There were none of the typical firsts. Her absence from the first day of school going unnoticed by everyone sitting in that classroom as my mind continues to race full of questions about who she would have been?
Would she be extremely shy?
Would she be the teachers pet?
Would she be in a class with other kids she knows?
Would she still let me pick out her clothes?
Would she be well behaved or too talkative?
Would she continually shock us with her smarts?
Would she struggle?
Would she want to be a doctor, astronaut, nurse, teacher?
Would she love her teacher?
While my head can't stop playing through a million questions that will never be answered, we are filled with the same emptiness we've felt for the last five years only amplified. I've survived 5 birthdays, Christmases, Halloweens, etc without her. The scab on the wounds from missing those milestones has gotten really thick over the years protecting my heart from the anguish we once felt on those days. For other milestones, were left to only imagine how they would have gone but there was never a true and fast date attached to them. I have no idea when her first tooth would have broken through, when she would have spoken her first word or when she would have taken her first wobbly steps. But today, I know that she should have started kindergarten. And I know as an early 30's mom, I would have spent time planning cutesy first day pictures. I know I would have made a special breakfast and I know would have shed some tears walking away from that classroom. Today, I confidently can saw that I know how much of this milestone I am missing. And it's tearing my heart to pieces all over again.
It's been said when you lose a child, you don't only lose the memories that had been made but you lose an entire future. When she left us that morning in June, we lost lost our first day of school, graduation, moving her away to college. In a moment an entire future was gone. Most days, I can tuck everything I'm missing safely into a place in my heart. But today was a stark reminder of the future we will never get to experience. A future we planned, a future we were excited to help shape and share with her. A future I will continue to long for and miss as long as I continue to live.