This morning found me bright and early in a snowy parking lot filled with other minivans and SUVs, extracting a wriggling and highly enthusiastic toddler from his carseat to enter the dragon: preschool.
I don’t know if you’re supposed to cry or something at such a moment (I’m pretty sure you are) but I didn’t. Honestly I kind of peeled out of the parking lot after handing off Mr. not-so-much-as-a-backward-glance to his sweet teacher, but that perhaps had more to do with the ice-slicked road than with my untempered enthusiasm. But only just.
I want to say it was a leisurely morning of coffee-sipping and paper reading, but I basically looked down at my phone and realized it wast already time to go pick him up. But it was still a nice break to be back to a 1:2 ratio, if only temporarily. And I think John Paul’s vocabulary increased by 300% in the 3 hours while Joey wasn’t speaking over him/shout-translating his needs. Snuggly one-on-one time with the middle child: priceless.
When I ventured back at pickup time the tears didn’t start flowing exactly, but a thin layer of mist may have sprung to my eyes when Joey spotted me standing in the parent reception area and busted down the door and flung himself around my knees, grinning a mile wide, his teacher in hot pursuit. It turns out you have to wait to be dismissed, buddy, but Mommy is forever grateful for that rare and oh so genuine display of public affection.
We went out to our favorite brunch spot to mark the occasion afterwards, since his first day of school was essentially a random Tuesday in January, and party we did: gluten free french toast with caramel sauce for the little man and a butterless biscuit and black chicory coffee for me. (Lucille’s, for any of you lucky local readers. The absolute pinnacle of Denver breakfast dining. We frequent the Littleton location perhaps a tad too frequently.)
Between sips of coffee and relaxing conversation with my sweet visiting sister-in-law, I made two or twenty trips to the bathroom to wipe/wash/change a variety of small people’s personal effects, and on one of those trips I happened to catch a glimpse of myself in the full length and the very first thing that popped into my head was that I look good for having three little kids. The realization stopped me in my tracks. And I don’t mean the realization that I do, in fact, look pretty good. But the realization that I recognized it and acknowledged it, not in some forced self-affirming exercise, but organically and automatically, even. Like, it was my first response.
That tells me something. This whole Wellness Project business? It’s changing me. Retraining my damaged brain that for years has been sending erroneous messages of not good enough and never going to be and replacing them with accurate insights like pretty good, all things considered and objectively beautiful and, perhaps my favorite, honestly trying. I have spent so many years speaking words of death and destruction and discouragement to myself without consciously realizing it, but it had become the silent soundtrack to my inner space. But now that I’m doing concrete, tangible things to refute those faulty claims of failure and shortcoming, my brain is startled awake, unable to continue playing the same tired tracks. I have to find a new soundtrack. And yes, for the record, it’s awkward as hell to say nice things about yourself, even if it’s only in your head. But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be said.
So today, my one thing? It was recognizing that the broken soundtrack isn’t playing anything worth listening to, any more, and pushing through the awkwardness of the new sounds of truth ringing in my brain.
A little over the top today, admittedly, but I’m blaming it on preschool.