When my feet hit the doorway of the elementary school on Open House night, the smell of the newly waxed gym floor overwhelmed me. I was immediately transported back to my own elementary school days. The memory of the first day of each school year is intertwined with that waxed floor smell. As a very timid kid, the beginning of school each year gave me that yucky feeling in the pit of my stomach. That familiar feeling washed over me as I gripped my daughter's hand and made my way down the Kindergarten hallway.
We had one week until my daughter's first day of Kindergarten. One week until I had to share her with the rest of the world. One week until we jumped into the really 'real world', the world of school commitments, testing, celebrating big successes and learning from big failures, projects, managing the endless school communications, and navigating new friendships. We walked into her classroom. I was nervous for her, and nervous for me. I anxiously looked around the room. The parents were busy finding their child's desk, excitedly pointing out the features of the classroom to their Kindergartners. I wondered if one of these kids would be my daughter's new friend, and if one of the moms would be mine.
My best friend and my sisters live 500 miles away. I have a very small circle of Mom friends locally, but none of them are neighborhood friends. I am still looking for that unicorn Mom friend, the kind of neighbor friend from a TV sitcom that sits with you on your porch while the kids play in the yard. The friend with a home that I can feel confident sending my kids to, trusting that she will keep them safe, and not let them get away with anything they shouldn't be doing. The friend that doesn't judge me for wearing the same shirt I slept in when she sees me at drop off, or when she comes to my house and sees my three year old running around in his underwear. I am an introvert and I work from home. My opportunities to cultivate new friendships are limited. Making new friends as an adult, for me, is intimidating.
We met the teacher, found my daughter's cubby and desk, filled out some paperwork and left. I took a few seconds to scan the room prior to our exit. I smiled at a mom wearing a similar outfit to mine, shorts, a "nice" t-shirt, minimal make-up. Would she be the one? On the ride home, I gave my daughter the "You will make so many new friends and do so many new things. It is okay to feel a little nervous and excited and a little scared at the same time," pep talk. Later that night, I realized that I was saying the words to her that I needed to hear. We start Kindergarten in one week. I was one week away from a chance at new friendships and opportunities. It was okay to feel a little nervous and a little scared and excited all at the same time.