Dear Jo: The First Day

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August 16, 3 years A.B. (after-baby)

Dear Jo,

You knocked on Emily’s door five minutes after the agreed upon time. You had done your best to get out the door when you needed to. But then Lyla had a poop explosion and Emerson insisted upon bringing Cranky the Crane.

“He can’t go in to school, you know that, right?”

“I know.”

“So you can carry him to school, but then you’ll have to leave him with me,” you negotiated. “I’ll take good care of him and have him for you when I pick you up in a few hours. Okay?”

Dear Jo: The First Day
Emily answered the door after a couple of rings and a knock.

“Sorry. Just trying to find the sling for Luke. I swear it was right here last night.” Emily finally located it in the hall closet. “Who knew I actually put it away?”

With Luke in place, you all headed out the door. Emerson and Joel led the way, their backpacks hanging nearly to their knees.

“Can you believe this is their first day of preschool?” Emily asked.


“I swore I’d never say, ‘where has the time gone,’ but really? Where has it gone?”

“And I hear it only gets worse from here.”

“Yeah, but I’m not gonna lie. I’ll be happy when Luke is in preschool, too. A few hours to myself? Yeah, that sounds nice right about now.”

“That’s assuming you don’t have another baby.”

Emily turned and looked at you. “Now’s not the time for that discussion. Luke woke three times last night and Joel came in once. Then I woke up this morning to find that I’d washed a disposable diaper with Joel’s laundry last night. So, the shirt he wanted to wear on his first day was covered with all those little gel things or whatever. Had a nice little meltdown over that situation.”

“Who melted down? You or him?”

“Both, to be honest.”

“How did a diaper get into his laundry?”

“I. Have. No. Idea. Then I went to make coffee and discovered we’re out. Let’s just say today is not the day to discuss more kids.”


“How’s Emerson today? Excited?”

“I think so. Joel?”

“Yeah. He’s disappointed he won’t be able to watch his shows during the day like usual, but I explained that school is only for a few hours. He’ll have time later. That made him happy.”

As you walked, you noticed a tree up ahead with yellow leaves. It was only August. The summer heat and humidity still persisted, yet there above you was another sign that change was just around the corner. You had noticed the change in a tree in your backyard just yesterday as you talked to the doctor on the phone. He had finally called with the results. You hadn’t seen a seizure in weeks, since when Paul said Emerson prayed for them to go away. But you still held your breath as the doctor spoke.

“He looks fine,” he said.

You nearly dropped the phone. You made him clarify that nothing is wrong. Nothing. All looked good. No reason for concern. No need for further testing. No medication. No concerns. Nothing but a normal 3-year-old boy.

You asked what could’ve caused it. He didn’t know. He speculated that maybe it was a virus that resolved itself. Those things do happen, he said.

Do you remember what that phone call felt like? Do you remember the relief? You wanted to celebrate and you did for a few minutes. You thanked God and you told Emerson the results. You wanted to do cartwheels or scream or do something, but your celebration was called to a halt when Lyla required a new diaper and Emerson spilled his juice. And today life continues as if yesterday’s phone call or last month’s testing and those countless absence seizures never occurred.

With the school only a few blocks away, it didn’t take you long to walk there. The teacher’s assistant was standing outside the door when you arrived.

“Emerson and Joel, right?” she asked. “Welcome to school. I’m going to walk you to our classroom, so why don’t you say goodbye to your moms?”

You and Emily looked at each other. “Oh,” you said. “I thought we’d walk them in.”

“Well, we find it’s best to teach children responsibility and independence, let them take charge a bit, and walking themselves into class is the first step.”

“Okay then,” you agreed. “Hey, Emerson. It’s time for me to take Cranky.”

You hoped he wouldn’t make a scene and refuse to hand over his toy. Much to your amazement, he readily gave you the toy and turned towards the school. No hug. No kiss. Not even a goodbye.

“See ya later, buddy,” you said as he walked into the school with Joel and the assistant. He turned briefly and waved.

Then you heard him say to Joel, “You know what else Cranky can do?”

And with that, they were gone.

“That was different than I expected,” you said. You turned towards Emily and saw a tear streaming from behind her sunglasses.

“I swore I wouldn’t cry. I blame it on the bad night sleep and no coffee.”

“Well, how about we fix the coffee situation. Wanna head to the cafe?”


The two of you turned from the school and walked in the direction of the cafe. Lyla had begun to doze in her stroller and Luke snoozed in the sling. It was just you and Emily talking without interruption.

As a yellow leaf fell from a tree and floated its way to the ground, you knew it was only the beginning of a new season, of which there would be many more to come.

Dear Jo: A {fictional} Diary of a Modern Mom

“Dear Jo: A Diary of a Modern Mom” is a serial fiction story written by Meagan Church. Stay tuned for the next diary entry of one mom’s attempt to chronicle what she has been told are the days she shouldn’t forget…spit-up, tantrums, milestones and all. Visit the Dear Jo page to catch up on the already-published entries. And, be sure to subscribe today, so you don’t miss a single installment:


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