Her younger sister makes her foray into the big, middle school building today. She is less about the close up. More about the profile, wanting to be seen; but not exactly noticed. The cami hits her newly rounded hips at the proper angle. And for as long as the weather gods allow, her blown-out hair grazes her waist and glistens a bit.
Upstairs my little man-child is deep in preparation. Big kid adventures of kindergarten — recess, napless afternoons and school bus rides—beckon. Spider Man blazes across his chest, secures his lunch and (for extra measure) the entire Super Hero posse stands guard on his backpack.
It’s the first day of school and everyone is excited up in here. Even Mama. Especially Mama.
For the first time in too many years to count, I can’t say I have “little ones.” Not that I would ever actually say that anyway; it sounds so suburban. Well, okay, yes—I do live in the burbs. But I like to tell myself that I am not of the burbs. I don’t own clogs and I wear yoga pants only when I’m, you know, planning to do yoga—which is pretty much never. I admit I do hang out at Starbucks quite a lot. But only because it’s like my Cheers (I even know a guy named “Norm” there). If you don’t count the fact that I sometimes leave the house without a stitch of makeup (although on such occasions I usually add a pair of big sunglasses to play it off), I think I’ve done a half decent job maintaining my swagger.
The point is, this is a big day for me. It is definitely a milestone for my children. But it is no less momentous for yours truly. I now have a house full of school-aged kids. No babies. No toddlers. And that says something about my life – where I’ve been and where I’m headed.
My brood clearly signals that I am of a certain age. I can’t front like I’m young as I’ve (unconvincingly, I’m sure) sometimes attempted in the past. I’m not ready to surrender all of my girlish charms just yet. I’ll still get crazy once in awhile—dancing the Running Man, blasting Doug E. Fresh (with my own “beat box” effects), randomly quoting the Notorious B.I.G. (“Blowin’ up like you thought I would…same number; same hood…it’s all good”). My usual repertoire.
Who could give that up? That’s my history. It’s a meaningful part of the culture. It puts me in a get-happy groove. More importantly, my kids loathe and despise. My old school hip-hop antics mortify them to no end. And when you find a way to totally embarrass your kids, you’ve got to hold on to it.
But, of course, this is about something bigger than my kids. It’s even bigger than Biggie. For me, this stage is wake-up call. It means that while it’s okay to act silly. It’s no longer okay to act a fool.
By that I mean no more penciling myself in last on my to-do list. No more putting off my own dreams and ambitious for the sake of the family. No more falling for the okeydoke.
I am really, really, really, truly grown now. For real.