Isabelle started the fourth grade this week. We spent the last few weeks getting her uniforms ready, buying new school shoes, packing her book sack, and purchasing her long list of school supplies. I felt so excited for her: the smell of freshly sharpened pencils, the stack of composition books, the art box filled with crayons. There's just something so promising about the start of a new school year and, after a long summer off, Isabelle has been ready all week to dive in head first.
On Sunday afternoon, she laid her uniform, shoes, and a bow for her hair out. She packed her bag for the 20th time and set it next to the back door. She said, "OK, Mommy. So, tomorrow morning please wake me up a little early so that I can get my hair just right. Please make your special cinnamon rolls for breakfast like you do every year on the first day of school. I'll set my alarm JUST IN CASE something happens to yours and you don't wake up in time. Then, we'll stop by Sarah's house to take pictures like we do every year. You can bring me to school since it's the first day but I don't want you to walk inside with me. Just walk me to the door this year, okay? I think that just about covers everything".
It was one of those moments as a parent that make you realize that maybe, just maybe, you've done SOMETHING right. For all the guilt trips I've embarked on as a mother, for all the times I've wondered, "Am I getting this right?", moments like this happen and you realize, YES. We're doing something right. We're raising a happy, healthy, well rounded individual who is beginning to make decisions for herself. Good decisions. For all the temper tantrums and crying and yelling, for all the time outs and tough love sessions, this little girl is starting to show us that she did actually learn something. And now she's putting it all into practice. She's becoming an organized, practical, responsible young lady. I just watched her complete one task after the other in awe, so proud of the progress she has made and the effort she puts into her work.
Isabelle is our first born, the child we learned from, the girl who turned us from Shawn and Liv to Daddy and Mommy. When we had her, we were completely clueless as to what being parents actually entails. We still feel pretty clueless, actually. But she taught us that it's okay to learn along the way. She taught us that the one and only true thing children need is the love, time, and attention of their parents. She taught us to be forgiving of our own personal shortcomings by loving us despite them.
The first born is a bit of a guinea pig, an experiment in parenting. We made a lot of fumbles along the way and I am forever grateful for her patience and forgiving nature. Through her, I've learned important lessons about the ins and outs of carpools, what jobs to volunteer for at the school fair, and where to find the best school uniforms that will last all year. I've met a network of other mothers whom I rely on for survival. I've become a master at creating the perfect ballet bun and can bake a pretty decent batch of brownies when necessary. I've learned how to call out spelling words while simultaneously cooking dinner and can sew a hem on a torn skirt while running to the bus stop. All of this as well as making her late, forgetting to pack essential items, and not knowing my head from my mama ass quite a few times. But, we're learning, day by day, how this whole parenting thing works and I know that, for as many times as we fail her, it's the few times that we get it right that she will remember. She will know that we tried our best, she will feel the love we have for her and allow that love to guide her. That's the plan, anyway.
Here's to a happy, healthy, and productive school year, Isabelle Grace. Remember: no pressure, no stress. Just do your best, give it your all, and enjoy the process. We love you to the moon and back.