First Day of School/Work

After a restless sleep, I woke up this morning to the news of a train derailment at Mount Vernon where I change trains every single day. I watched the weather report lamenting the departure of our amazing spring-like temperatures and warning of downpours and chilly weather ahead. I tried to catch a few more winks between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. but my overactive mind wouldn't let me. Today is ZP's first day of school and/or work.

Even though we knew this day was coming, we still scrambled around to get everyone dressed (ZP wore his preppy sweater vest and 'smart' corduroys for his first day), fed, and out the door on time. We dismantled the pack-n-play and loaded it into the car. We grabbed the jars of baby food and shampoo and last minute items. We stuffed an excited baby into his car seat and drove five minutes away to his new nanny's place (actually, the couple with whom we are sharing the nanny own the place but you know what I mean).

When we arrived, the couple were there to greet us, reassure us, and show us around again. ZP put on his shy face, tilting his head and tucking it under my chin as he observed the new people and surroundings. He caught sight of Moxi (his new baji) and displayed some interest in her by raising his head and then some more interest in what she was eating (rice crispies and bananas) by pushing away from me. Rosario was beaming when she saw him and clapped her hands and put her arms out for him to jump into. He hesitated and returned his head to my shoulder for a moment as he eyed her. I walked him around the room, pointed out different things, and held on to my brave face for as long as I could. In the end, I chickened out and handed him to TP to do the transfer. I couldn't bear to hear ZP crying and clinging to me when I knew eventually he would have to go to Rosario. Turns out, he was pretty comfortable in her arms anyway.

After giving Rosario instructions on feeding, cleaning, napping, etc. (all of which she responded to with a nod and a "yes yes" which translates into "girl, I have four children and have taken care of other children; don't worry."), we said out goodbyes to a sleepy and disoriented ZP and left.

TP dropped me off at the metro. I blindly entered the station and rather robot-like went through the motions of inserting my card, going through the turnstile, walking to the approximate spot where the doors to the train would open near the stairs at my last stop, and stared straight ahead. My head was buzzing. The train arrived and I boarded in a daze. My thoughts were so jumbled: "did I pack enough toys for him? what if he cries so much he throws up? I forgot to tell her not to spank him!" When we arrived at Mount Vernon, I didn't know whether the metallic taste and smell I experienced were the remains of the earlier train derailment or the blood in my mouth from biting the insides to prevent myself from bawling in public. My frantic heart was in my throat, leaking a bit from my eyes, threatening to escape through my nose. Logically, I knew that he'd be alright. Emotionally, I was the commander of panic station.

As the train emerged out of the tunnel and into the rain to cross over the Potomac River, I made my daily du'as to ask God to protect and bless my loved ones. But like a scratched record with a broken needle (or for you 21st century types, like an audio glitch on an mp3 recording), I just kept repeating "please please please". Please take care of ZP. Please let him be happy, and well-fed, and well-loved. Please let him learn, and have fun, and be healthy. Please watch over him, guide him, reward him. Please please please.

My view of the river and trees and city was abruptly cut off by the return of land and the tunnel. The gray skies gave way to pitch black. With the lights inside the metro throwing my reflection in the windows back to me, I saw myself: eyes glassy, mouth tight, brow furrowed. I remembered how we used to tease my mother when she would be anxious about something and her forehead would create two vertical lines between her eyebrows. We called them "elevens." The thought of inheriting those elevens made me smile a little. The thought of being as good a mother to ZP as my mother was to me made me smile a little more. All I can do is love him, protect him, guide him, and do what I can to make his life good. Insha'Allah, I'll have the strength, patience, wisdom, and humor to get through his life, let alone my own.

The thing that will get me through this day is the knowledge that I'll be seeing him again in a few hours when I go to pick him up. I'll sweep him into my arms, go home, and we'll play on the yellow mat and eat Cheerios. And I'll tell him how much I love him, how much I missed him, and how much I pray for the best for him. Please please please.

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