I know. I could feel your anxiety even last night as you lay down your heads to go to bed. Eight PM: it’s a new autumn routine that none of us are used to yet.
I don’t want to go back, Mom. You said last night over dinner.
Why? Is there something wrong?
No. Just… And you trail off. Your sixth-grade words can’t work out what your heart is worrying about.
I know, honey. It’s going to be wonderful. Will you trust me?
Mama, the other one of you said after I read you a book. I’m nervous.
What are you nervous about?
There are new girls in my class and maybe they won’t like me.
They’re gonna love you and you are going to do great. And then I hold you as you fall asleep because we don’t get to do that often. And you’re getting so big it scares me.
So we all sleep for a few hours.
Me, I fall asleep a little later than you, but my after-dinner glass of wine kicks in at a reasonable hour and soon enough we are tucked and cozied as we should be.
And you both sleep well through the night, but I wake up in a panic at 2:32.
It happens, this middle of the night thing, the older I’ve gotten. But tonight my heart and my stomach seize up in a ball of worry. I worry for you. I worry enough for all three of us, even four of us. I toss and turn over a hundred times and before I begin to bother your father’s sleep I get up.
I check all the doors to make sure we’re safe and snug and I crawl back into bed. Too hot. Too cold. Too much anxiety.
Then I wonder, am I taking all of unease of the whole house into my own self right now? Am I taking on your burden of worry so that you can sleep? Maybe that’s silly, but if that is true, I don’t mind being awake right now. It will be too soon before I’m not privy to the intimate details of your hearts that I gladly take on the hurt for a night.
I hold all of our worry in my stomach so that you don’t have to. And so that you can sleep deeply.
So I get up and I type out and work out my anxiety (our anxiety), on the sofa with middle-of-the-night-words that I hope hold up in the light.
And with every word I pray for a school year that stretches out before each of you true and straight. With every word I pray for a friend for you that understands your heart. With each word I pray that the anxiety that seizes us in the middle of the night or before we fall asleep be a toothless beast rather than the monster we desperately believe it is.
And so for you, my darling girls, on your first day of school today, know I love you and that you are going to be amazing.