11:25 AM, Tuesday, November 16th, 2021:
That's a good title.
And holy shit was this bigger than we realized. Like, we were ready for the emotional punch because they're finally back. That part we fully knew was coming. But as we sat at Starbucks after we dropped them off this other thing hit us: we dropped off very, very different children than we picked up on March 11th, 2020. Not just because of the seriousness of the pandemic and the loss of the ability to freely move about, etc. They seem to have rolled with those punches pretty well. No, the thing that kept hitting us is that our cocoon allowed us to stretch a period of their childhood a bit longer than normal. They almost reverted BACK in several ways during quarantine. We spent soooooo much time together. Vienna even had abandonment issues when we dropped them off at Oma's for date night. It was like they were 3 and 4 again for this 20 month period...
...and then Cam literally runs away from us to go to school. They, were, ready... and suddenly they're the 9 and almost 8 year olds they should've been all along.
Now I never really grieve for any period we pass with our kids... something about how I've documented everything really does give me comfort in times of change. But I feel like we just jumped a couple of years. There was no progression the past 20 months, that all comes with their interactions OUTSIDE OF YOU. Ya know? Like we hate to admit it sometimes but that little bubble we keep our kids in at home? That's not good. They need to go get their ass kicked a bit. They need their spirit broken a little. They need their idealism to come up against reality and truly test what they're made of. That's what makes you grow. Oh you want to be a scientist? Sure seems like that MATH homework is kicking your ass.. are you SUUUUUUUUUURE? Because of course you can't be anything you want to be when you're a kid. You want to be a CAT when you're a kid. No you need to think you're good at something and then run into someone who is actually good so you can assess your shit a little better. I don't know if anyone's ever put it exactly like this but I wholeheartedly believe that's what happens.
I mean, you can't imagine how much I believed I was going to be a basketball player until I was one of the first 3 dudes cut my freshman year (and it wasn't close). At the time I said I was going to work really hard and try again the following year but the truth was? My talents were literally hurling me in a different direction. I needed that one failure to wake me up and just accept that I was extremely gifted - just not physically. And then? I was off to the races. I became ME at that moment.
And that process for the kids now is going to be at a lightening pace. I mean, blistering. By the time they finish this school year I feel like they'll be almost unrecognizeable to the kids we had in quarantine for all those months. We shed some tears over that. I have a lump in my throat as I type this. But I can say unequivocally today was the proudest moment we've had as parents. I mean, we made it through a once in a century parenting hardship and protected our kids as best as we possibly could. I saved my money for a rainy day... it fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucking rained, and we weathered that shit beautifully.
I'm not sure I've ever felt pride like this. This was really, really difficult.
Alright - it's an early pickup day, can't wait to see how their day went!