So, Friday was officially our last day at Bristol Elementary.
The kids were fine. GREAT, even. And that's mostly because they are kids, and they don't put any kind of long term or serious weight on this. They know they still WANT to go to Bristol, and they are nervous to start over...but their little hearts just aren't so set on clinging to school as their greatest sort of comfort. It's the same reason that moving out of our house wasn't THAT big of a deal for them--they haven't attached 36-years worth of expectation and security to it. Lucky bastards. Also, we are on Spring Break now, and waiting 10 days to start at a new school seems like eternity, so really we aren't struggling with anxiety...yet.
It was, however, heartbreaking for ME. The hardest part of all this change, really. It hasn't been selling the house, or living with my in-laws--it's been leaving the school I was mostly neutral about when we started the year. Oh, what a difference seven months makes. In September, I really knew NO ONE up there, and I wasn't really in a place where I thought I would put any effort into it; I had sort of resigned myself to being invisible. Remember, I thought we were going to SELL our house, and the plan was ALWAYS to move into a new school district.
And then, summer came and went--and the house was STILL on the market. And our hand was just sort of forced (by a crappy real estate market) into keeping everyone at Bristol. I didn't have any beef with Bristol, but I didn't KNOW anyone there, and it wasn't what I would have chosen, or carefully planned for. But it quickly became clear that moving G to Bristol was probably the best decision we ever made--because from the start, I KNEW I needed to help my daughter make friends. I needed to invite the girls in her class over to our basement, and not wait for them to make the first move. I could write an entire post about the ways that changing G's schools was so empowering, but watching her come out of her comfort zone is by FAR, the best part of it. G is slow to change when she is comfortable; she is a safe girl, and she will never risk what she knows for what could be. But when she HAD to make new friends--she did. GREAT friends. A sweet best friend that is the exact girl that I hoped G would find. Turns out my first born makes excellent choices.
Getting to know the girls, meant meeting their moms. Becoming friends on facebook. Showing up at school social events (remember THIS?) and suffering through the awkward parts of not knowing anybody--for the sake of GETTING to know other families. TOTALLY worth it. You know, making friends is about putting yourself out there a little bit, and it's scary for women, because we fear rejection like we fear bats infected with rabies. Writing this blog helped too, because it's trained me to put myself out there on a daily basis, in written form, and it ALWAYS opens the door to conversations about how hard 1st grade math is, or how driving to school braless BACKFIRES when your kid forgets their lunch in the car--all the "real" stuff that doesn't flow off the tongue when new friends stand around at afternoon pick up. We all make it look SO easy, until we admit the pressure to maintain a kindergarten reading log is brutal.
Until this year, G went to a Christian school--and I leaned on the comfort that the families there shared a similar faith. Starting there when G was in kindergarten always seemed a little less daunting, because we had a common ground with every family there. But the truth is that if you're LOOKING FOR IT, we all have something in common. We are raising little people, and surviving sports practices and picky eating and unrealistic expectations. Everyone has freaked out over a milk spill. We choose our battles and our strategies differently, but the story is mostly the same. It's an amazing thing really--to enter the world outside of your comfort zones, and STILL be able to find what is familiar, and comforting.
Maybe that's why this is so hard. I really had NO expectations about this school--and it has been incredible. It had everything to do with our big season of change, and being open to (craving, really) something new, but I have LOVED every minute of it.
I LOVE this school. I LOVE what it's taught me. I LOVE the women there, particularly the handful that I've gotten to know pretty well. They are good friends, that I never expected to find in less than a school year. I'm sad to leave teachers that really knew my kids--all of them were incredible fits for my children. Particularly Big J's teacher, who really played a big part in getting him diagnosed with ADHD, and not letting him struggle throughout the year. I'm certain I'm not romanticising this, because I REALLY didn't go into this year excited; I came in somewhat heavy and frustrated, and I'm leaving completely amazed at what the Lord can do with my attitude and expectations, if I am willing to see him in everything I can't control (and all the stuff I *think* I can).
And yet there is the part of me that still believes it can't get any better. That this is the last, best thing. And yet I KNOW that he has made me comfortable and safe...and full of joy at every stage of this journey, and I trust that is what's in store for us at our new school. I'm choosing to believe what we tell our kids--that friendships aren't defined by WHERE we go to school, but by the amount we work to keep them. When we left G's school at the end of last year, we had a pretty good idea that we wouldn't be back, and yet it wasn't anywhere near as hard or painful to walk away from it (and we LOVED that school too). But there is TRULY something to be said about THIS year and what having our kids in ONE PLACE has done for us, how they have all done so well there, how it has breathed new life and confidence into all of us. All of this, in the place we LEAST expected it. And to think, we would have missed it, if we had just held tight to our comfortable routines and resisted change.
So now. We have moved into the suburb we had always planned on--and I know it wasn't an *accident*, because we are firmly convinced it was always the Lord's plan--but in seven months, we had redefined what was comfortable and safe. We fought HARD to stay at Bristol, but it just didn't come together like we hoped it would, despite all efforts to make it work. As it turns out, the lesson wasn't in letting go of our house, but in learning to hold everything that we cling to as safe and secure, a little looser--and I KNOW I will fight this battle my entire life. If it's not a house, it's a school, or a city, or a job, or a college, or the things we believe can never get any better than they are right now.
I'm sure we will settle in to our new school. We'll make new routines, and define comfort in new ways. And we'll keep our Bristol friends, while making new ones. As it was always designed, I'm sure; not to sacrifice friendships or happiness, but to abundantly grow our blessings.
I'm (cautiously) looking forward to it--and by that I mean trying not to think too hard about everything that's changing, for fear that it will send me into a tailspin. We'll survive this the same way we handled testicular cancer and two pregnancies on bed rest and premature triplets.
By simply moving forward.