Anna was starting first grade and I remember looking at her in the rear view mirror on our way to school, she sat silent looking out the window. I could tell by the look on her face that she was contemplating something.
“Are you nervous Anna?”
“A little,” she said quietly without breaking her stare from the countryside.
Her little school was not our neighborhood school, but one I always dreamed of sending her to. Being a traveling teacher in the Forest Grove School District I had close friends who taught there and I knew she was in good hands. Her best friend was also attending, and they had already made plans for lunch and recess.
We pulled into the parking space and I asked her if she wanted to sit for a minute before going in. She nodded her head and smiled nervously.
My heart swelled.
I climbed in the backseat and held her hand. All I wanted was to scoop her up and take all of her nervousness and fear away. I knew that in that very moment I needed to be present, and lovingly guide her into her new adventure, showing her that, no matter what, I was there for her and so incredibly proud.
We sat in the back of the car and I shared with her all the reasons why I loved this little school so much. From the back pasture, on a clear day, you can see all the way to Mt. Hood. The beautiful garden behind the school where, during lunch recess, kids could sit at the picnic tables and draw. She would learn lots of fun things about all sorts of interesting topics and would have music class and physical education. I assured her that she would make lots of new friends, that her teacher was one of my favorites and how I couldn’t wait to hear her stories at the end of each day. She asked if I would visit when I was teaching at her school and I assured her that was already my plan and I couldn’t wait.
“I’m ready,” she said with a soft voice.
I looked deep into my little girls eyes and with every ounce of my heart said, “I love you Miss Anna.”
She smiled and said, “I know.”
A year later, it was the end of September and I found myself driving on the same country road that Anna and I had taken that morning. I thought about our drive together and how all I wanted to do was be present and ease Anna’s nerves. On this drive all I wanted was for her to ease mine.
Quietly, I whispered, “Anna, I’m going to see your friends and I’m so nervous.”
I was headed to my little girl’s school to volunteer for a couple of hours. As another school year began I knew that my heart needed to connect with her friends and to mother my girl in the best way I knew how, by being in their classroom.
I walked into the office and signed in. The secretary asked if I was heading to second grade, and with a cracked voice I said, “yes.” She came around the desk and gave me a hug, saying, “the kids will be happy to see you.” I walked down the hallway slowly. I didn’t want to upset anyone or show emotion while I was there. I wanted to simply read with Anna’s classmates, get to know them, and be present in their lives. I wanted to sit in their classroom and feel what it was like to have a daughter in second grade, because I did.
Standing at the door, I stopped and took a deep breath.
“I’m ready,” I whispered to my girl in heaven.
I opened the door and a room full of second graders looked at me with delight.
“Anna’s mom is here!”
With a broken heart full of love, I smiled and said, “Yes, Anna’s mom is here.”