My shoulders have been aching for days. I know why and yet I still can’t get the tension to release.
Back to school time always builds a ball of anxiety within me that I cannot suppress or find a way to properly release. I pray, I run, I lie on the floor and try to relax each muscle in my body by tensing it and letting go in a systematic fashion- nothing works. I sadly resort to heating packs and pain relievers to get me through the days.
After 13 years of taking kids to school I think I’ve finally pinpointed the cause of the anxiety. Yes, I worry about my kids. I worry about Ellie and her repeat of 4 year old preschool and whether I am scarring her for life as I’ve been told similar decisions have impacted other loved ones in my life. I worry about Lewis and his 8th grade year. Will he find peace within himself and friends he truly connects with? Will he realize how smart he really is? And I worry about Charlie, who in many ways has left the nest – living in a different town during the week while taking on the challenge of a new high school at the University – alone. So brave. So determined. Have I prepared him enough for this great adventure?
All these things stir in my mind while the to-do lists are miles long. And yet I have a great sense of peace and trust – I just know these lambs of mine will be tended to, will find their way. I just know it.
So why am I wound up so tight?
I live blocks from my girlhood home where my Dad still resides. And between my home and my childhood abode is the school I went to for my elementary years. I pass by this building nearly every day. You see… I believe this light brick building is the epicenter of my back to school anxiety. From Kindergaren through 6th grade the halls of this building were the stage of so much sadness and torment for me. I was that girl. The girl who was a little chunky, just different enough to catch the attention of all the cool kids – but not in a great way. So I lived for summer. I played outside all day, made mud pies, swam in a pool all day and night, had friends who accepted me and didn’t know I was the wierdo chunky girl. Summer was bliss. Which made the thought of going “back to school” make knots churn in my belly, my head ache and my eyes well with fear and dread. Although I know that the struggles of my elementary years helped shape me into a more strong and compassionate person, I now understand that this is the source of the knot in my right shoulder this week.
It’s not so much my anxiety over losing my kids to another year of milestones and chaos; it’s my fear that they might face the same crap I did. It was bad for me – but in this day and age of instachat and snap gram, I know it can be so much worse now.
So tonight, 2 days after the official “back to school photo brigade” on Facebook, we settled around the dining table at my childhood home with my dad and enjoyed a wonderful dinner prepared by the nearly 82 year-old chef. (Remember I told you about him). We laughed, we relaxed, the kids made too much noise in the next room and we loved it all.
And as we were leaving, I went to the back hall where my mom had her room for the last years of her life. I tidied up Ellie’s mess and made a pit stop into Mom’s room. I knelt on the edge of her bed and curled my aching shoulders over the pillows that still have her smell over two years later – and I hugged my mom. It was as though I could feel her saying all the comforting words she used to say to me during my school years. “Oh Kathy, you’re doing a great job. I am so proud of you.”
And I wept. I mean really cried. And I don’t cry often. But with every tear I could feel the knot in my shoulder start to release just a little. No matter how many days pass without her here- she will always find a way to make me feel better. I can only hope I can do the same for my kiddos.
Welcome back to school everybody. Deep breath. We got this. 😉