Before you started kindergarten I wrote you each a letter. I wanted to capture how I felt on the eve of your entrance into a new world. I know too much about schools and schooling and I wondered how you would experience school in your own way. Looking back, my letters still ring true. You have both grown and changed but my little bug is still the same exuberant girl and my little muffin is still the same empathic girl. And here we are, on the eve of another year.
This is landmark moment for the two of you. You’ve had the security of sharing a school for a several years now, but this year, you’re branching out. Middle school is uncharted territory for us. You’ll both experience what it’s like to be “the only Weiner” today, unlike sick days of years past. Whether you will admit or not, I know that you like the security of having each other close and in this strangest of years, you’re going it alone. Even still, we know our fourth grade teacher and you’d think middle school was party, so I know you’re ready (for now).
I wish I could say I was ready. As your mom, I have never felt more helpless or confused about how to make the “right” decision about what to do next. After months of time together, when I know I should be running towards the start of the new year, I am so empty. We may never spend as much time together as we have in the last six months. It was not all perfect or pretty but there was some solace in having you close at hand. And now we will be apart. And more than ever, I have to trust others to ensure your safety. We have no control.
I think back to the sleepless nights of your earliest days when I paced the floors of your bedroom, carefully avoiding the creakiest spots in the floorboards, willing you to sleep, begging you to nurse. I felt so helpless, had so little control. With both of you, we wondered when the hard part would be over. This moment in our lives is less clear cut than any other parenting argument ever undertaken. There isn’t a camp to join or a fence to sit on. Your parents are not the only parents who have no idea what to think or how to feel about the world. We keep wondering, when will this be over?
My mom told me once a long time ago that in parenting, it’s never really over. We know how lucky we are that for us, you grew and changed and met your milestones and continued to thrive. But this moment in your lives (and in ours) is another head trip altogether. While I’ve had to share terrible news with you in the past, and I’ve fielded countless difficult questions, I am not often speechless. Too often in these last few months the hardest thing to bear was your repeated frustration and boredom and anger at the state of the world, feeling closed off, disconnected and even forgotten. All you want to know: when will this be over?
I don’t know.
I wish I could tell you.
We don’t know what will happen.
So on the eve of another year, a year filled with so much uncertainty, I want to reiterate what I do know: we will keep you safe. We will make choices that keep ourselves safe and healthy and that encourage others to do the same thing. We will try to make things as normal as we can. We will continue to make sacrifices.
Please be optimistic and patient. You don’t have to be happy and cheery all of the time. But please hold out hope and look ahead. Keep focusing on what’s right here: a safe, warm, loving home filled with our favorite humans on the planet. It is difficult to live under strange circumstances. Over the last few months you have had to learn many raw and ugly things about our society. But we’re still here, together.
I am so proud of you both. I know this isn’t easy. It will not be forever.
For now, chin up. That’s all we can do.