Oh, my dear friends....it's been awhile. Thanks for coming back to me. Let me catch you up: I've been busy, the end.
Here's where we are now. I just submitted an application for Juniper for kindergarten. She'll be five years old in June. I'm still struggling with this. I know that five is a humongous milestone, but it just feels particularly surreal for me, and I've been trying to navigate why. I'm just going to ramble a little bit while I wade through these really emotional thoughts.
June was never supposed to happen. She was supposed to be medically impossible. I never anticipated being a mother, so she was a huge surprise - a welcome, happy surprise, but a surprise just the same. That has been a compass for me as a mother - June shouldn't technically be here. She's just the most tremendous gift, the world's greatest surprise, and I try to never take that for granted.
Making the mental shift to 'mother' was such an arduous journey for me. I had to wrap my mind around the medical logistics of it, the risks, the issues that I could encounter, etc., before I could even begin thinking about having to train someone how to be a human being for 18+ years. Once that sunk in (read: once I decided to stop thinking about the medical aspect of it) I was able to get into the right head space and get excited about motherhood. June's dad and I were overjoyed when she was born, and she was perfectly healthy, and I was healthy, and we were all safe. We were a family, and it was good.
Jump forward to when June was around 9 months old....I got a divorce.
You could write an entire book about being a single mother, but I won't, because I can't. Because it's too much. The divorce itself was just the ugliest thing that's ever happened to me. I can point to the moment when I started out on my own with Juniper as one of the top 3 pivotal moments in my life. I was alone, I had to find my own place, I had to get a part time job, I was in graduate school full time....and I was a single mom. It was like a wide-awake nightmare. I grew up so, so much in the space of about 2 months, and I think that time is what is influencing why I am struggling the way that I am with Juniper doing this whole 'growing up' business.
When it was just me and June, we developed this routine. We learned each other really quickly and intimately. I was her hiding place and she was mine. We did everything together, and because I was doing the whole parenting thing alone, I was really protective and experienced everything with her. I think that something happened in my brain during those first few months, before June's dad had any custody, when June and I were hiding out alone, and I made this imaginary world for her. The only thing I can liken it to is Where the Wild Things Are. It's like we ran away, and I built this castle around her and myself and stored up all the best things on the inside and pushed all the bad things to the outside.
Through the past five years, even through shared custody with her dad, and changing jobs, and moving, and being in relationships, I think I've somehow kept us in that stronghold. I stand guard at the gates, sorting through everything that could possibly hurt her, but more importantly, anything that could separate her from me and muck up our utopia. As the years have gone on, I've expanded the castle walls, but still built them to keep the good in and the bad out. It's our safe place, where it's just she and I and we're safe and together and happy.
This next chapter of her life, five years old, means letting her leave the castle. Since she's gone to whatever center or preschool I've worked at since she was 8 months old, I've been able to keep her close to me. Kindergarten means I can't go with her. I can't go be her kindergarten teacher. I can't stand guard anymore to keep the bad things out and pull all the good things in. The gates are opening, and I have to let her bring in some of the bad things to sort out for herself.
In the face of this realization, I have to believe that because she is so, so good, she will see the good, and go out and fight for it like the brave little warrior princess she is. As I'm imagining her do this, I'm moved to tears because she is so brave and so true to herself and I know she will find the good, just as I have found the good and shored it up for her these past (almost) five years. She will begin to see the good and the bad, and she will begin to stand guard for herself and she will build the castle walls bigger to let more of the good in. There will be less bad because she will go out to the bad things and take them by the hand and help them find out how to become good.
I'm trying to trust that June's heart is her biggest and most powerful organ, and that she will use it in the most powerful of ways, because I can't use my heart as a shield for her anymore. Our hearts will be forever intertwined in a way that shall never be undone, because for so long our hearts have carried each other through the painful things of life. We have been each others life raft, and I need to let her go out into deeper water now, on her own. I'm flinging her out into the universe with all my love.
I'll stand here at the gates of our fortress and wait for her to come back, with all the tales of her great adventures.
Brooke + JuneBug