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The Choice

August 24, 2010

I’ve been feeling really anxious lately. My older son started Kindergarten at a new school today and I’ve been dreading this day like the plague. There are several reasons this transition has been hard on me.

1. I am a person of routine and I really like following a set routine regularly. I know that bores many people but not me. I thrive on it and need it to maintain my sanity most days. New school means new routine, new schedules to worry about, new procedures to remember, new people to meet, new and unexpected problems that I don’t even know about yet.

2. I’ve spent the last few months pondering about the virtues of public vs private school and am still not sure we’re doing the right thing. Or even what the right thing is. Education is really really important to me and is something I want to get right. Now if only these things came with guarantees….

3. This marks the beginning of my son’s school life. A life where he spends 6+ hours of his days nowhere near me. His own life. While I understand this is wonderful in many ways, too, it’s just frightening to me that he’s so young and yet he will get on a bus and go to school and make friends, do things, learn things, and then get on another bus and hopefully not get lost on the way home. Hopefully he won’t get off on the wrong stop. He won’t lose his bus pass. He’ll remember his backpack. He will eat his lunch and put the lunchbox back in the bag for me to fill the next day. He’ll keep track of his homework so he can bring it home. I can go on and on. Thoughts, worries, possible scenarios are just dancing in my head. Keeping me up at night.

The thing is, I know that life always moves forward. That’s the great thing about life: constant change. And we’re arriving at a new phase in his life. One that will involve more independence and responsibility on his part. When I truly think about it, I know he will rise to the challenge. He always does. He’s taking all of this with much more joy and enthusiasm than I am. And I am so proud of him.

I know that some of my fears might come true. (Hopefully most won’t.) But I also know that we can recover from pretty much all of it. What is even more important is that my anxiety and worrying isn’t helping me or him. It’s keeping me up at night and stopping me from being as present as I could be. It’s setting the wrong example to him and sending messages that there’s something to worry about here. When, actually, this is a moment to celebrate. A passage he deserves and welcomes with open arms. As should I.

I am trying to remember a post I made last December. Choosing Joy over worry. Choosing to embrace each moment. Choosing to look at things from a positive stance and be grateful for what’s here. Be grateful that I am there to see him through this amazing new step in his life and the millions of other things I have to be grateful for in general and specific to this path. My husband reminded me today that this is a choice. Every day (and even every moment) I have the choice to be anxious or worried or joyful. Why not take the one that makes me happiest?

So tonight as I review the roads to the bus that will take my son to school tomorrow, I sit with these words. As I worry about how my little boy will do during a two-hour meeting I plan to attend at the school (a meeting that falls inside his nap time), I remind myself that things will go as they will. We will make it through as we always do. We will walk the path.

And so, why not make the choice to walk it with joy?

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