Today marks exactly 30 years since I began 5-year-old Kindergarten as a four-year-old. Since my parents were divorced and I was attending school where my mom lived, my unbelievably loving and thoughtful father presented me with this necklace.
On the front – “First Day of School”. On the back – “9-14-87 Love, Daddy”.
Every first day of school from Kindergarten thru my Masters & Specialist degrees, as a student and as an educator – I have worn this necklace.
Today I went to school on the first day and did not wear this necklace for this is the first year that I am neither the student nor the teacher – I am the mama. So my daughter wore it – and oh my – was she proud! Even though she is only two and her first day of school was for our weekly Early Childhood Family Education classes, she seemed to wear the necklace with a sense of pride and purposefulness. It’s almost like she knew that her mama was feeling all the feels and that I needed her to understand that this necklace is far beyond a piece of engraved metal….so please keep it out of your mouth and on your neck! …sorry sometimes I can’t turn the ‘mom’ off….
This engraved, heart-shaped necklace is like many things in my life – a symbol. The love that is symbolized goes beyond the heart-shape. It extends to the love of a dad for his only child, the love of a child for school and learning, and the love for traditions, routines and even symbols.
With all of the love, joy and hope this necklace brings – it also bears the weight of symbolizing my childhood trauma and my continued journey living with Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder (PTSD)….which is why I am here, why I am writing, how I am surviving.
You see, even though I don’t have a clear memory of my mom sending me off to school that first day – I have a very clear memory that my first day of kindergarten was the last-first day that I experienced with my mom.
My mother was murdered by her husband while I was in the house on October 9, 1987….less than one month after I began my first day of school.
School – and being super successful at school – became a therapy for me after my mom’s murder. I used school to not only survive the violent loss of my mom, but to excel at honoring her memory every step of the way.
Without a ‘school’ to attach to this year – I am committing to this site and documenting my wonderfully crazy, complicated, painful and joyous journey of life. I will work to build my own MOMENTUM towards health and healing and hopefully inspire a few more along the way.
I am scared. This is different. This is new. This is vulnerable…and this is me.
Happy First Day of School! 9-14-17