If there's one thing I've learned it's that divorce has made me a more protective mother.
Because I was there in the middle of the night, stroking the hair of a crying child who missed their dad. I was there when the confidence level shifted and there was worrying about stability and abandonment.
I watched it all.
And I have to tell you, over these past few years, my children have been some of the most incredible warriors I've ever seen. They've taught me so much about bravery.
I mean, I'm the adult and I haven't handled the past few years as eloquently as I could have but these kids? They've been amazing, all things considered.
Tonight I want to focus on my little man. I've had thoughts of this post in my head for about a month now but I wasn't sure if I could explain it or get through it without crying or breaking down---because my little man is so amazing. So so amazing.
From the time he was young, I knew he was sent here for a reason. I know, I know, we could each say that about each individual child but there was something different when Ninja was born.
I was protective of this boy. I remembering breaking down when he was a week old because we had visitors over and I hadn't held my boy in over 20 minutes. As I cried and the visitor kindly handed him back, I kept thinking, "What the heck is wrong with me? How could I miss a baby that was sitting right next to me in someone else's arms?"
I seriously thought I was crazy.
It's a little funny to me that I am so attached to this boy. He gives me a run for my money. He was our poop painter, our permanent marker wall artist, and he has a hard time not getting too aggressive with other kids when he's playing.
His listening skills aren't great---they're almost non-existent---but we've always been close.
When his dad left, I was so scared for this kid. I was afraid of what divorce would do to his little heart. He was only 3 when we separated.
And over the past two years, I've watched some significant changes in him and some of them have been messy.
I was scared about Kindergarten. I was seriously so so so so scared. I don't want my son to be labeled a 'problem' because he can't sit still or because sometimes he still has daytime accidents. I was worried about him because he isn't a big fan of academic work and he would much rather watch tv or play video games---both of which I try to limit in our home.
Leading up to the first day of Kindergarten, I was worried about whether his teacher would care about him and be able to help him in the best possible way---and I wasn't sure.
I wasn't sure because I don't believe anyone can be the kind of mother that I am for Ninja.
Sidenote: The irony?
Many times over the past year, I have argued with my therapist that I'm not an outstanding mother and that many women could do a better job than me. Each and every time, she would shake her head and disagree---firmly. And leading up to the start of Kindergarten, somehow I can see it now.
I can see how I am the best mother for this boy. It isn't a perfect job but it is what Ninja needs from me right now.
I was still worried on the first day of school. He looked so adorable and our morning was so positive so I made sure to keep my worries to myself so they wouldn't show. As I dropped him off, I felt ok about leaving him with his teacher and I smiled as I got in my car and started my drive to work.
But when I got on the freeway, I was a mess. Tears started to stream down my face and I realized these tears weren't about my fears for Kindergarten but somehow, I hadn't even thought about the fact that it is HARD to accept that my BABY is in school full day.
Because in my perfect world, I would be a stay-at-home mom right now with two or three more children running around this house. In a perfect world, I didn't plan on Ninja being my baby and I certainly didn't plan on ALL of my children being in school full time this soon.
I called my mom and she talked to me the whole way to work. I'm grateful she answered her phone that morning because I needed her to tell me this is all going to be ok.
You'd think this was the end, that our "Starting Kindergarten" story is over but it isn't quite wrapped up yet.
I had picked Ninja's particular school for two reasons: the full day schedule and the curriculum. The bus came and picked him up right at our neighborhood school and it seemed perfect.
And it was perfect---until he got home from school at 4:30 on the first day. Or when he got home at 4:45 on the fourth day.
I started to panic a few days ago when I realized this schedule wasn't working. I didn't want him gone so late and he wasn't doing well in the evenings after sitting on a hot bus for an hour after school every day.
So yesterday, I made the decision to switch him over to our neighborhood school. I called them, set it all up, and went in to sign him up this morning.
He even went with me to take a peek at his new-new school.
He is excited and I can tell he's a little nervous but I feel so much peace when I think about him being so much closer to me and to our home.
I'm still worried---I don't think that'll ever end---but at least I feel much more at ease.
Parenting is hard. Parenting school-aged children is hard. Parenting children of divorce seems extra hard. But we can do hard things.
In fact, we do hard things. Every single day.
I'm proud of this brave warrior that I get to call my son. He is so special and I feel so lucky to be able to raise him and watch him grow.