Why You Won’t See Me Cry on the First Day of School

Trigger Warning: Loss

Back to school is upon us. Miss E starts her second year of preschool in a couple of days. My Facebook newsfeed is full of First Day of School photos along with comments of “I’m so sad, my baby is starting school.” “I’m going to cry at drop off, why does my baby have to grow up?” “Stop growing.” Every time I read one of these comments I cringe a little...and then I wonder about my own lack of sadness at a milestone that signals growing up.

I’ve thought about it every time the girls have a birthday, especially their first. Some friends have said they won’t make it through the day without crying because they are full of so much sadness; their baby is growing up. When Miss E’s first birthday came, I remember I was so excited for the little person she was becoming that the day came and went with fierce smiles instead of tears.

It wasn’t until a couple of days ago that I realized why I want to be happy about these moments. My family knows that no day is promised. We have experienced the wrong place at the wrong time, the disease that claimed young, and the poor judgment that ended badly, just to name a few. A hurt that is still fresh; a month after Miss E was born a friend suffered a late term miscarriage and gave birth to her stillborn daughter. (You can read more about that here)

Lately, every time I see someone asking why their child has to grow up or why can’t they just stop growing and getting bigger, I stop. I know that those statements are made with sentimentality, a kind of wistful longing. But I can’t help but think of that mama that is aching because her child did stop. So, while I am sad that I might not clearly remember what it feels like to have a chubby toddler hand in mine or a ginormous preschooler hug on her first day of school...my hope is that in their place I will experience my fingers entwined with that of a woman’s as we prepare for her wedding, or the tight hug of a young adult as we drop her off for her first year at a university.

There are many quotes out there and I can’t remember any one specifically, but basically they all are to remind us of this: that we don’t have children to keep babies. If we are lucky, we get to raise the next generation.