Forgive me if I seem a little verklempt today.
(For the non-Yiddish speakers among you, a definition: verklempt, adj. overcome with emotion; clenched; also written ferklempt.)
I just dropped the kids off for their last day of first grade. Now, I'm the sort of mom who does not typically get all weepy over such things. I mean, while the other moms were sobbing uncontrollably on the first day of preschool, I was the mom cheerfully waving goodbye while high-fiving the steering wheel and tearing out of the parking lot NASCAR-style.
I may be exaggerating, but those who know me in real life would probably nod their heads in agreement when I say I'm a bit more hardened than Hallmark. And they would be right.
Which is why it makes no sense for me to be emotional over the fact that today marks the end of two eras. The first, and most important, is that Betty and Boo are finishing first grade. In less than three hours, they'll be free for the summer (although I, hard-ass Mom that I am, have several educational activities up my sleeve for the next few months) and on their way to being second graders. This is all a very good thing.
It's also the same day that we're saying goodbye to our minivan that we bought just a week before Betty and Boo were born. (It's also the end of two years sans car payments, which believe me, has me hyperventilating.) But, it's time. It's a 2002 Caravan that has been a diehard workhorse, with thisclose to 130,000 miles on it (65,000 of those logged in the past two years). It's not the commutes from hell that I'm remembering this morning, though.
It's putting Betty and Boo in their rear-facing car seats for their first trip home as a newborns after a three-week NICU stay.
Changing a screaming-his-head off Boo's poopy diaper in the backseat while The Dean drove us down the turnpike. (No time for stopping or pulling over. The object was to get the hell home as soon as possible.)
Loading the van to the brim with Pack-and-Plays, bouncy seats, safety gates, boxes of diapers and gluten-free-casein-free foods for an overnight at Mom-Mom's.
Packing the van full to the brim (again) with two kids, a cat, and every valuable item we owned and driving around for three hours while our townhouse was being shown to prospective buyers. (Where do you possibly go with two 8-month olds and a cat?)
Driving to and from the beach solo and not caring about the sand covering the floor, because it symbolizes the first time your son with autism ventured into the ocean instead of screaming his head off at it and pacing for miles on the beach.
Taking a road that should have been less travelled on a stormy night, only to careen into a ditch and see floodwaters rising outside the van's windows.
Good times, good times.
There will be more ahead in the new car, I have no doubt. I'm picking up my new chrome wheels with all the bells and whistles minutes after I pick up the kids from their last day of first grade.
And if you see me slightly verklempt and wiping a tear away in the elementary school parking lot, don't worry. It's only because I'm sad about the prospect of car payments again. Mmmmm-hmmmm, yes. Really.
It has nothing at all to do with the fact that first grade is over, that my kids are in the driver's seat of their lives, high-fiving and waving happily. That, with a little (no, make that a lot) of luck, they will be fighting over the keys to my old 2009 Chevrolet HHR in 2016 as they continue to drive down their own roads.