This morning as we were getting ready for the first day of school, my son (who is going into grade 1) came up to me and said, “Mom, I feel a bit scared about today. Maybe a bit sad too. I don’t know what it’s going to be like, or if I’m going to like my teacher.” He said it quietly, as if the softness of his words would somehow blur their meaning.
“That all sounds perfectly normal to me,” I said thoughtfully. “It’s a new school year with a new teacher, and new classmates. I would imagine that a lot of kids are going to be feeling exactly the same way you are.”
“I guess,” he said, studying his hands. “Everyone keeps asking me if I’m excited to be starting school, but I’m not.”
I nodded as I gently wrapped my arms around him. “There’s no right or wrong way to feel about the first day of school,” I said, reassuringly. “Whatever you feel is perfectly okay, because your feelings are yours to have. I’m glad you told me about them though, because my job is to help you understand those feelings and to figure out what to do with them.”
And that is something we all need in life, isn’t it? Someone who will tell us it’s okay to feel what we feel, and who will still love us anyway. Someone who will listen as we talk, without necessarily trying to fix whatever it is we are trying to work through. Someone who isn’t going to tell us that we can’t or shouldn’t feel a certain way, or try to convince us that we are just fine in spite of the fact that we are clearly not. We need people who will press their shoulder up against ours when we need someone to lean in to. We need people in our lives who will say, “I get it, and I’m here for you, so go ahead and feel all the big feels.”