I don't typically cry on the first day of school, but today was different.
I sent my girl off to a brand new school teeming with strangers wearing masks, in the uncharted territory of back-to-school during a pandemic.
It's true that for the past few weeks, I've been ready.
Ready for school to start. Ready for some time apart. Ready for something different.
But not without questioning my choice — and myself.
I've wondered what kind of mother I am to send my kid off to a brand new school during a pandemic.
I've worried that maybe the whole thing will just be too much for my girl, though based on who I know her to be, it's not.
I've considered all kinds of worst-case-scenarios, subsequently blaming myself for each hypothetical one.
But overall, I've been comfortable with my decision during a time in which none of the choices seem good enough.
Nonetheless, the weeks — maybe months — of anxiety and wondering and worry poured from the corners of my eyes as I stepped back and watched my girl brave this new world.
I let her go and my emotions considered that their cue to do the same.
And I realized the tears weren't so much about her, but rather me.
Because as I watched her befriend the kid who was standing alone; as I watched her chat excitedly with her new teacher; as I watched her march confidently to the front of the line with her mask in position, it was clear she was going to be okay.
She's ready for this.
And while I thought I was too, it turns out it's just going to take me another minute to get there.
Because no matter the circumstances — no matter how much physically or mentally prepared I feel — my heart is never prepared for her to grow another year older. Especially during a year when we're basically all preparing for the worst.
But I can't carry the weight of every worst-case-scenario any longer. My shoulders have been bearing it for too long.
And today, the tears felt cleansing as the weight began to drift away. Because even though I don't know what this school year holds, I know that I love my kid and I truly trust God that she's going to be okay. Even though I wanted to stand there with her on that playground forever and ever.
As I watched my girl doing what she does best — socializing and learning — I decided that a mom who sends her kid to a new school during a pandemic is a good mom.
Not a perfect one. Not one with all the answers. Not one who won't screw up or make mistakes.
But a good one.
And the look on her face when her nervously searching eyes picked me out of the crowd of parents after school?
Well, that just confirmed it.