Tomorrow will be my first day of school in twenty-five years - a school that requires me to brush my hair and teeth. My brick and mortar college experience was abruptly disrupted, and now I return with a radically different school supply list. From a forty-dollar iClicker that has merely five buttons, a-e, to extra pairs of reading glasses. Giving up my elbow deep apocalyptic prepped mom purse is painful, if not traumatic.
Firsts have always been traumatic for me. From my first steps, which I was told that I would practice behind closed doors, my mom only discovering this through a cracked door, to my first words. I would speak behind the same closed doors, just to become silent once they were opened. Even as a toddler I didn't want my firsts judged. Only when I could speak correctly, walk perfectly, would I then dare scrutiny.
As I grew, weeks before the start of any school year the nightmares would begin. They were the same, from grade school through high-school. I would dream I arrived at the school in PJ’s or naked, waking in a sweat. It doesn’t take a degree, or even Dr. Phil, to decipher my feelings of fear of lack of preparation. Imperfection. No apocalyptic mom purse to save me.
For a short time before the start of high-school, I dreamt I was being chased by gangs with medieval weaponry. However, those dreams passed after the start of school, and I never met one gang carrying weapons of any sort, including medieval ones. These are the fears that plagued me growing up in a small town with a bad reputation it never earned.
Earlier this week, my boyfriend and I walked the campus of my new brick and mortar school. Memorizing for me the paths I will need to take. I tripped twice. That type of trip you can't even see what tripped you and it simply annoys you. The kind of trip that generally happens when none of your friends are around to laugh with you – just strangers, forcing you to choose between laughing at yourself or pretending it didn't happen. Again, I recall that toddler that choose not to walk among the judges - until walking was perfected.
Tomorrow there will be many firsts. I haven’t had my PJ or naked dreams – but I am anxious. Twenty-five years hasn’t eradicated my perfectionist DNA, but it has tempered it with resignation to the great “whatever.” If I trip, “whatever,” if I walk into the wrong class, “whatever,” it is the perfectionist’s antidote. I don’t know why I haven’t used the mantra before – I have heard it at least a thousand times. What mother hasn’t? Mothers, time to embrace “whatever,” yourselves.
Lose the mom purse. Free your shoulder. And when your child is upset you don’t have a granola bar and water – join me and shrug those ‘strap free’ shoulders and say, “whatever.”