In her infant room, she LOVED "school." Would barely even blink at drop-offs, and often, when I'd show up to take her home, she'd keep going about her business, playing and running around the classroom like the wild little girl she is.
She was known as the "easy" baby, was go-with-the-flow, and never really fussed or cried unless she was sick. She would even walk over to her crib and pull out her sleep sack when she was ready to nap, following her scheduled to a T.
And then, we rocked her world and threw her into Room 120.
With the big kids.
With the kids who sleep on cots, and sit in chairs for snack time, and go outside for recess.
With three new teachers who don't quite know her yet, or understand her temperament, or get her unique little personality. Teachers who also don't know just how neurotic and worrisome (but supportive!) I am.
Three new teachers who are undoubtedly qualified, who will grow to love her (and hopefully me)... but three new teachers who aren't - well - her old teachers. Her FIRST teachers.
They say there's some kind of magical bond babies form with their first away-from-parents-caregivers. And CK is definitely attached to the teachers who first introduced her to life away from Mom and Dad.
And now, we've had to take her away from their loving embraces and strip her of that comfort. Which has been very hard - for both her and me.
She's been fussy, having trouble sleeping, and refusing to put Melvin down (her one comfort item at school - a favorite stuffed monkey). When she's dropped off, there's a quick-distract-her-with-breakfast-strategy to avoid total meltdown. And when I walk in to pick her up in the afternoon, she completely falls apart. With a look on her face like, "Omigosh-Mama-WHERE-have-you-BEEN-this-is-TERRIBLE-why-did-you-LEAVE-me-here-with-these-strange-people-take-me-HOME!"
As a worrisome and my-daughter-is-my-world mama, I spend a lot of the day thinking about her, wondering if she's okay, imagining her crying and wishing she were somewhere else, with someone else.
And as everyone knows, I would give just about anything to be able to stay home with her, so that doesn't help the emotions I've been feeling lately, knowing she's not really happy all day long.
This experience has given me a lot to think about, a lot to reflect on. Truth is, we can find a lot of opportunities for growth in the uncomfortable life moments. And when you're a parent, you're guaranteed to experience a lot of uncomfortable life moments.
Sure, she's only 1, and in a toddler room - But one day she'll be 5, and in Kindergarten. And able to voice her concerns much more clearly. How will I handle it when she says, "I hate school" or "My teacher is mean" or "I don't have any friends"? Just imagining those scenarios makes my heart want to fall apart all over the floor... It makes me want to wrap my little girl in a bubble and protect her from all of the tough stuff, the fearful, the hard moments, the heartbreak, the scary.
But then I wouldn't be doing my job.
Because that's where we learn, where we grow, where we become strong, good people… in the moments that require courage. Because we can't learn how to be brave if we don't ever need courage.
And growing up in this big, scary world, there are going to be a lot of moments when my little girl is going to need to learn how to be brave. To try. To fail. To try again. To cry. To put a broken heart back together.
And during these moments, I will be there to hold her hand, to guide her, to cry with her, to pray. But sometimes I'm going to have to learn how to stay on the sidelines and let her figure things out on her own. To allow her to fail so she can muster the strength to try again. To let her heart break so she knows just how good love feels. To be scared, to find courage, and to learn when to be independent and when to ask for help.
When this transition, this one of MANY transitions we'll experience as mama/daughter is over, we will all be ok. She will learn that though things can be scary at first, and a little uncomfortable, she can make new friends, try new things, and have new teachers who love her just as much as her old ones. And that her mama will always be there for her at the end of the day.
And I can learn to continue trusting other people to care for and protect my little girl. To take a step back, loosen my grip, and let her (and myself) grow.
I can learn to be okay with watching my Cameron Kate navigate the waters of life when things get a little tough without immediately jumping in to try to save her.
Man, this whole mama thing is hard work. And we've only just begun.
Who would've thought trying to transition to the toddler room would be so hard on me?