On my long drive to school this morning, I spotted a bald eagle soaring overhead as I crossed Jordan Lake. My emotions were already running high, and somehow the sighting seemed so significant—I wasn't sure exactly how—that I started to cry. And then I cried for the remaining 20 minutes of the drive.
Today marked many lasts for us: the girls' last day of preschool for the year, Cricket's last day of preschool forever, and our last day at the preschool we've been attending for three years. (Nora will move to a school closer to our new house in the fall.) If the percentage of mothers sobbing while hugging their teachers goodbye is an indicator of quality of experience at a school, I'd say our school couldn't be better. We were batting 100% this afternoon.
It wasn't until hours later when I told a friend about the eagle that I understood its significance; the last bald eagle I had seen was flying over the lake as we drove across it was on the first day of school last fall. On that day, I was about 9 weeks pregnant with Piper and had no idea how I was going to manage to get the girls to school each day and walk them in without passing out or throwing up in front of everyone. (My pregnancies were all fun like that.) There were so many days when just standing up was a challenge, both from nausea and a lovely condition called pelvic girdle pain that sent shooting pain through unmentionable places every time I shifted positions for the last half of the pregnancy.
But I knew that if I could just get the girls to the doors of their classrooms, their amazing teachers would give them all the energy and attention and patience that I couldn't muster. And you know what? I got them there just about every day. And those teachers made the year incredible, magical even. The physical, emotional and intellectual growth we've watched in Cricket and Nora this year has astounded us. And even more importantly in preschool, those teachers loved our girls, and all their students, to bits.
To be honest, I just enrolled the girls at our school because it was close to our old house, one neighbor said she liked it and I had a good feeling when I visited. I had no idea that it would become our community, our people, over the next three years. Saying goodbye today was painful. But seeing that soaring eagle once again on this day of all days gave me the sense that the family we found over the years at our school was more than just luck; it feels a whole lot like fate.
In a few months, we'll move past these "lasts" to a slew of "firsts." First day of kindergarten. First day at a new preschool. And on and on. But boy have these last three years set us up for the adventures ahead. And boy have they been grand.
I'm Julia Soplop, writer and photographer. I believe there is something profound in bearing witness to moments of joy and pain in others’ lives. My husband, three girls and I live outside of Chapel Hill, NC. You can read more about me here.