A Completely Tearful and Not Completely Wordless Wednesday: Kindergarten.

I was actually going to go completely wordless and completely tearfully this week. For real this time.

And then something happened. Something shifted. I decided to change my tune. I also contemplated how honest I would get in this post today, because I do already get pretty honest, but this is a new level of honest. Don’t worry – it’s not 100% of my brain, because then you’d think I’m a pervert with slight anger issues at bad drivers and other forms of stupidity, who gets high on life an awful lot and holds grudges against people who copy or pressure or push me. Oh wait, I said too much already.

I want to talk about kindergarten, again, because my experience is different from Scarlet’s experience. And my experience is different from other parents of kindergarteners, of course, including my own husband. I know that people go through rough times with the kindergarten transition. I’m not alone there. People have been giving me a lot of wisdom about how okay it is to have separation anxiety about my children growing up and wondering what to do with my own career/life. However, that doesn’t even scratch the surface of what lies beneath. This is not your run-of-the-mill parent of kindergartener anxiety.


I have PTSD – Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. I never have before. This is my start, for I have been triggered.

When I was just about four, my father died suddenly one day. I thought that Scarlet turning four would be more dramatic than it was. In truth, I felt strong when she turned four last summer. I was strong. I didn’t realize some hard times were coming.

wordless wednesday

When I turned five is when I could make more sense out of what happened to me over a year previously. Only, how can anyone much less a child, make sense of such a personal tragedy? Before kindergarten, I suddenly had a new home in a new town with two new brothers, a new baby sister and a new dad. New dad. That meant that the old one was gone. Really gone.

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And this meant he was really not coming back. And my mom had to put me on a bus, because we lived on top of a mountain, and away I went to kindergarten on a new bus in a new school in a new town, with a penguin backpack on my narrow shoulders – not even remotely as heavy as the emotional baggage I started carrying then, and maybe started carrying for life. I don’t remember a lot about kindergarten. I don’t remember a lot about being sad. Surely, I was. Surely, I am.

Scarlet starting kindergarten has never been about Scarlet being nervous. And I assure you I have taken care not to let my anxiety drip onto her and infect or burn her with its relentless wax buildup. She is near flawlessly amazing, and she has a mother who tries, a brother who looks up to her, a wonderful father, a great extended family, and most importantly – she did not have a parent die suddenly. In front of her. Quite frankly, I was robbed. And she will not suffer for my loss.

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I intend to fully get through this, and emerge on the other side as I often do – fully in the light and fully engaged. I intend to be there for my daughter. Thank you, always, all of you – for being the voices in my head who have become very real and beneficial. Once, that kind of support didn’t even seem possible to me, but here I am – happy to be in this community.

I shudder to think about where I would be without writing, photography & well-adjusted kids. Glad I don’t have to find out.

And now, for the wordless part: The First Day of Kindergarten in Photos.

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  1. What can I say, but I was balling by the end of this tonight. Seriously, can’t even imagine the depth of your feelings here for all you did lose at such a young age, but still just was brought back to last week here and all my own anxiousness and then Somme. Mine was more the worried mom variety though and got to tell you I got a phone call from Emma’s teacher this morning. She calls these types of phone calls. Y the way, “Happy Grams”. It was one of the nicest phone calls I think I ever got and to hear how well she has done over the last week and just out me so at ease for the first time in weeks. Amazing what a simple phone call can do. Anyways, hugs to you tonight and just so glad we did experience this together.

    1. We were bawling together!
      Those happy phone calls are the best. At our school, if they have to call you, they say, “this is the school. Everything is fine!” And then they say what they wanted to say. I haven’t been on the receiving end yet, and I kinda hope I never am, but that’s not realistic!

      1. That totally isn’t and got to tell you when I first saw it was the school, I got nervous and then was told it was a “Happy Gram”, so my nerves turned thankfully to smiles, but still just not a fan of the school calling in general with worries of the worst case scenarios, too.

  2. Oh my! I read it while I listened to the radio gods, or you could say Lindsay. The Who really works with this blog, BTW. The easiest thing for a person to do is take out their frustrations and loss on their children. The challenge is to end the sadness and give their child a magical and happy childhood. Peaceful. You are acing this!

    1. Break the cycles of abuse. Break the cycles of sadness. All of those things seem tough.
      I love to read my words and see my photos, set to music. Only once, though. I could never reread these!

  3. Tamara, I want to go over to your house and just give you a big hug right now. Your honesty and the way you convey your emotions is just amazing. You are beautiful, as is Scarlet. Both of you will rock kindergarten. xoxoxo

    1. Thank you so much! I just keep thinking that it’s so cool that we actually did hug in real-life! More than once! But I’ve had that feeling many times, and I am so grateful that many of us are going through our stuff together.

  4. I was excite to be the first to comment, except, now I don’t know what to say. I know you will get through this and come out on the other side. I also know that one of the biggest reasons Scarlet is so amazing is because she has an amazing mom. I love the pictures and I’m sending you great big virtual hugs!

    1. I hope you’re right. Sometimes I think she was just born amazing, or she gets it all from her dad and grandparents. I should learn to give myself more credit!

  5. I love your honesty. I have no idea what it’s like to lose a parent… at least a parent that I was close to. Even at this age, I’m not sure what it’d be like, or how I would handle it. Each stage that our children go through are reminiscent of what we went through, how we want to protect them from our pain. From what you show us, Scarlet is a beautiful, well-adjusted child. I hope you keep loving her how you are. I love the pictures! I totally forgot to take pictures the first day of school here.

    1. I don’t do the more standard back to school photos, but I knew I needed to tell a story with this day. And it’s funny because I don’t even really like my photos from a professional point of view, but they did tell the story.
      It’s amazing how much we want to shield our kids from our pain, and really they will find their own and more. That’s the hard part.

  6. Oh – I love this!! You are amazing as a mom because you let your kids grow and laugh and run and play!!!
    So awesome that Scarlet friend holding her hand – that helps!!!

    1. And I let them dress how they want! I wonder how long that will last.
      I was very thankful that she had a special friend to hold hands with on the first day. And the second and the third, for that matter

  7. Tamara, Wednesday’s blog may be not be completely wordless, but it is absolutely priceless; every word, every picture.

  8. I can feel your honesty. I can see why it was so different for you growing up. It’s lovely to see Scarlet in a group of other kids too. Oftentimes, moms feel more emotional than kids. We gotta be proud and I’m sure you are proud with Scarlet being so wonderful on her first day.

    1. She has been wonderful for four days now. It must help the transition. Of course, a lot of the pain is not about her, so it’s taking me longer to adjust. I am adjusting, though!

  9. I am right there with you, I HAVE NO IDEA WHERE I WOULD BE WITHOUT WRITING!!! Writing has helped me so much. I kept a journal and wrote in it EVERY SINGLE DAY when I was younger. I don’t have much time to do that these days, but having Facebook, a blog, Twitter, Instagram, etc, etc is sort of like a diary these days!

    I have to say, Scarlet has a pretty amazing mom πŸ˜‰

    1. Yes, our diaries are pretty public these days! It’s funny how that works.
      I was never good at regularly keeping a journal. The only regular writing I ever did was when I had my journalism major. Blogging has totally changed me to writing three posts a week from nothing.
      And thank you for calling me a great mom!

  10. The way you thread your honesty together in sentences is so beautiful. Some of the things you wrote about seeing at 4 years old, I can’t even type into clear words because it hurts to know that you went through that. No one should have to see that or have that memory. I have a heavy heart for Tamara the little girl, who was just as amazing but was robbed. But I love the person she has become and the mother she is. Scarlet is one fierce girl and so are you!

    PS. I don’t like copy cats. I never confront them though. I just remember!

    1. Hahahaha! Me too. I remember. I’d be more likely to do something passive aggressive than to confront.
      It pains me to write those words too. And sometimes I think of the little me as a separate person, because sometimes it’s too painful to even imagine that was me. But it was and I have to own it!

  11. I am SO, SO sorry for the loss of your father. It’s terrible at any age, but I can’t even imagine your pain. You are one brave lady, and the fact that you can recognize your struggles and work on them is so important. The pictures of your daughter, standing with attitude in her first day of school outfit, are amazing. Congratulations on your wonderful, beautiful family. This is just another step in your amazing life together!

    1. I think you’re right. It is a big step, and it hurts so much, but I hope it gets us to steadier ground.
      I tried to be brave, and sometimes doing the most mundane things involve me fighting anxiety so hard. It’s not always like that, though.

  12. I can’t imagine such great loss, and I’m so very sorry, truly, that you had to experience it at such a young age. You are a wonderful mother for bearing it on yourself, and not spilling it to your children. You are leaving a new legacy for Scarlet and Des. What wonderful photos, captures all of the beauty and essence of the first day.

    1. I think I do count on other calm people to help me with the kids. Although I have to give myself credit because I am the sole parent of them five days a week, for many hours.
      So I guess I’m doing things okay, but always could be better.

  13. I can’t imagine what it must be like to lose a parent at such a young age. It must have been just horrible. Your kids are very lucky to have you, and they look so wonderfully happy in all of your pictures. It looks like it was a fantastic first day for Scarlet! And I love that picture of Athena looking out the window…I assume waiting for Scarlet to come home?

    1. Yes! I do think she was waiting for Scarlet to come home. Either that or she was stalking a bunny, but it is nice for me to think it fits the mood of the whole day. We were all just waiting and trusting.
      And my kids really are wonderfully happy. It’s not just the photos.

  14. I’m so sorry you experienced a loss like that at such a young age and also that the memories of that anxiety and uncertainly (and yes, I’m sure sadness) are kind of creeping around you right now.

    The photos capture the joy and excitement of this day though. You made it those things for Scarlet, I’m sure. Lucky girl!

    1. A lot of those things, yes. And a lot of sadness. I suppose I prefer the sadness to anything else, though. It’s far more productive and less deadening than depression and anxiety.
      And thank you about the photos! It really has been a happy experience for her and I have been most happy when we talk about it together. I am adjusting, although not as fast as she is!

  15. First, kudos to you for even writing this. You were robbed. Completely. Kindergarten was an extreme adjustment period for you and you have to relive it all over again with your daughter. It is such a great thing that she doesn’t have to feel that pain or even know what you are going through. You are so strong and you will make it through this an even better person. Hugs!

    1. Thank you so much. I know I keep a very honest, pouring out type of blog, but even this was difficult for me. I questioned it a lot. And I’m not usually one to question things. I just felt like people should know that my kindergarten anxiety might not be the same as theirs. Well of course everything is unique. And I am hoping for somebody who relates to this a lot. I know it it’s out there.

  16. I’m so sorry for the tragedy you had to endure, Tamara. There is no way I can ever understand what you’ve been through, but my imagination tells me it must have been incredibly difficult. What a gift you have given your children to be in a better place! The first day looks so fun – the girls holding hands is especially happy for me. My girl didn’t have a friend to take her hand, and she had a rougher first day. And I totally identify with looking out the window, waiting for her return:)

    1. Scarlet had just met this friend in August. They actually played together when they were toddlers, because the mother is a friend of mine and a photographer friend.
      anyway it’s been funny in the morning, because if that little girl isn’t there yet, I have to wait around and then I’m late taking Des to daycare. Totally worth it, though!

  17. I am so sorry for your loss, Tamara. I think the fact that you can write this speaks volumes for how far you’ve come. You’re amazing. An amazing blogger, mother, and human being. I really hope you know that! β™₯

    p.s. Gorgeous pictures to memorialize such a BIG day for Scarlett! It looks like she had a blast!

    1. I appreciate that because I couldn’t attribute words to it until very recently. And I find I discover more through writing, and I write more through discovering it. It’s definitely a process and I think it will be a book one day. With Photos.

    1. It’s funny that the photos have been showing me things I don’t even remember seeing that day. Like other kids watching them and wanting to join in. They are super cute.

  18. You were robbed, Tamara, and I’m so sorry for that. I read your words and see your photos and I feel just a sliver of what you feel: the sadness, the yearning, the joy, and the hope. May there always be more of the last two.

    1. I really hope so. I do seem wired to feel joy and hope. I wonder if that’s something I was born with, or taught, because it’s always seemed so natural to me. Even when times are tough.

  19. I’m so sorry that you had to live through that awful, tragic experience as a child and, in some ways, still today. But I sense a strength and determination there inside of you that will, maybe not every single moment, but will help carry you through your daughter’s childhood with a very important perspective that not a lot of us have. That is, that life truly is precious, every single moment, and that (in my opinion, as an anxious person myself) sometimes it is OK and understandable to let those fears, worries, second guesses trickle forth. I truly hope that you have a great year in school. Now, let’s talk about how she stands just like you! It caught my eye in a few photos.

    1. What a cool thing to notice! I always feel like I stand so awkwardly in photos. I’m a little less awkward in person, but not by a lot! I’ve only ever known life this way, so it’s sort of an interesting way to grow up and realize not everybody is wired like me. And that makes me happy, and sometimes sad and lonely. Although like you said, there are plenty of us out there!

  20. You will get through this and you will be even stronger and more sure as the days go on. Your embracing the beauty of your children and family and their lives is the way through, as I’m sure you know. This year will be more than you expected, in more ways than you ever could have asked for. Your daughter’s beauty and life will lead the way, just follow her! πŸ™‚ :mama hugs:

    1. I will follow her! And this comment. Oh man, it’s awesome. I am really glad I made the decision to write about this. I am usually writing like this, but this was one that I hesitated about. It really helps me to process it.

      1. Writing always helps me to process things. Sometimes I feel different at the end of writing and wonder if I should even put it out there any more. Usually I do, because it’s still true and that I’m honest about. πŸ™‚

        I remember when I was younger, I used to write in journals and letters to people. I left it for awhile, then I returned, then I left it again. Now, I’m holding onto it. πŸ™‚

        1. A good thing to hold onto. I was never very good at keeping diaries regularly. My blog has surprised me a lot. And there are a lot of times when I don’t know how I feel about something until I write about it!

  21. Oh T…

    You sweet precious broken-hearted, amazingly gifted, courageously strong gorgeous love… I ache for you, that you have to constantly have this broken piece of your life to crack open over and over again as you live through your own parenting journey. I can only imagine how this has all ignited all those intense emotions and flashes of loss, and trauma and change and memories of the greatest pain you will probably ever endure. And as a child, no less.

    This deep rooted abyss of dark mysterious swirls is what also defines your whole. This broken piece you had NO control over that still keeps you captive on hard days? It propels your talent and your creative spirit as you constantly dive even deeper into that raw soft wound that will always be a mark on where your gift is inspired. Thanking God that He equipped you with such a gift, so you can bear this burden and use it for good… as you shine in ALL you are. Being you? Blesses so many.

    1. I wish I could make a bumper sticker or a T-shirt about your first sentence.
      Not to be light about such a wonderful comment. I do feel more brave lately as I do touch my own wound and it hurts a lot.
      And it also propels so much of the writing and photography. I really do wonder if this is still the direction my life would’ve taken without the tragedy. I think some things, I was just born with and other things, not much.

  22. You are amazing! Scarlett is so lucky to have you guys! I have to say I love the one with Athena staring out the window waiting for her big sis to come home- so beautiful!

    1. That was my favorite! I think she missed her sister a lot. Anyway, thank you mystery person! My blog just tells me that you are named “someone. “

  23. I am so deeply sorry for the loss of your Dad. I lost mine a few years ago and it was hard and I was an adult. What a very difficult thing for a little person to deal with and process. No wonder these fears pushed aside are re-surfacing now. Hugs as you go through this struggle right now my friend. Thank you for beautifully sharing the truth in your life and for sharing Scarlett’s first day in photos. P.S. Her choice in a backpack was top notch πŸ™‚ and your matching dresses were adorable.

    1. You noticed! The matching dresses. My mother-in-law gave them to us, and Scarlet wanted us to match that day. And the backpack was also a gift. Cassidy is less sure of it because it’s so blatantly princess. But she loves it!
      I cannot imagine the pain of losing a parent as an adult. It has to be so separate and so awful in different ways.

  24. Those pictures? Way too much awesomeness for one post, I don’t even know where to begin… Athena is one of the coolest and prettiest dogs I have ever seen (and I’m very partial to my dog, but she is so awesome!). Also, that one picture of Scarlett just about in the middle (it’s actually #15 from the bottom) – she looks just like you πŸ™‚ Love it.
    And then there is the picture of Cassidy kneeling next to Scarlett and all the kindergarten moms standing around him πŸ˜€ – I think he will be very popular there πŸ˜‰
    And yes, you will emerge on the other side and be in the light. xox

    1. All of the kids love Cassidy too! He is the cool dad, for as long as that can last before they’re embarrassed by us.
      I took Athena to the vet today and she was such a hit there. They all love her. She really is as wonderful as she appears. Even better because her personality is unmatched.

  25. That was really beautiful. What a momentous day for all of you, and I hope that somehow watching all of this unfold helps set things right (or even more right) in your heart. Looks like you all are doing wonderfully, and what’s just about as good as it gets.

    1. It does help. It’s been a longer adjustment for me and I’m not the one who has to go to school. (Thank god!) The feeling in the pit of my stomach has gotten a little better each day. Thank you so much.

  26. I won’t say that I know how you feel because I’ve never walked this specific path. You have, however, given me some insight as to why I am so anxious about Frances right now. When I was 10, my family left the security of the only home I had ever known and moved across the country to a teeny, tiny town in the middle of nowhere. I had it rough the first year or two and school was especially difficult because I was away from my brother for the first time. I think this transition year for Frances is bringing up all those feelings for me now. And having this new insight makes it a little less heavy on my heart. Thank you!

    1. Oh wow. That would make total sense! It would be so hard to leave everything you know at such a changing age. And to be away from your brother. I could see how that weight would settle heavily. And last for years. I hope everything is going smoothly and is helping both of you adjust to the new middle school years.

    1. There’s not much else to say. You inspire me daily.
      And you nailed it. I wanted to keep it shut. I didn’t even want it to open enough for me to see it. I’ve been the one living in the darkness.

  27. I was the one that left the “this is new” comment because I wasn’t sure I was in the right place.

    And to this post, I want to send all my love. I’m so glad Scarlet can enter the new world of school surrounded by light and happiness as a little kid deserves. ((Hugs))

  28. I’m so sorry Tamara, I cannot even imagine. I know the anxiety I carry about loss loved ones, yet I had more precious time that you did. You were definitely robbed. Thankfully, Scarlett’s kindergarten year will and be full of joy, which she will treasure!

    1. I totally agree. And I will treasure it too. And I’m not bitter about what I lost because I didn’t know any other life, and my life has been wonderful. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a pain that I can’t seem to swallow, though. We all learn as we go and hope for the best.

  29. Sorry to know this love, it’s a serious condition that definitely affects people. Thankfully, you seem to be doing better and aren’t “transferring” any anxiety to the children. It’s also great that your kids are well-adjusted, which shows you also picked a good partner to procreate with πŸ˜› I had to move from NYC to VA when I was 8 and that was no easy feat – Even then, I didn’t realize what was happening when I got into that car with my mom and sisters and came here. Everything so foreign and different and no dad. I think it affected me more than I let on but either way I was always an anxious child but you learn to adapt. I did some days/months/years are harder than others. At least you’ll get through this and it should get easier as Scarlet gets older πŸ™‚ Happy Hump Day love!! -Iva

    1. It’s so true. Some months and years are harder than others.
      I do think I was born anxious. I do remember being afraid of loud noises and being spun around. I think that kind of comes with the territory of being young though.
      Everyone is afraid of something when they’re young! I think my fears just got worse from the death.

      1. Ha I was born anxious too…my first memories is of me being terrified in a corner thinking my mother wasn’t coming back but she just stepped away. Yeah I agree that would make your anxiety worse for sure.. hopefully this year has been pretty tame..

        1. Oh, that’s sad! But probably typical-ish for young children, right? Des and Scarlet often think I’m pulling a runner.. and I never, ever, EVER am.

  30. I am sorry you lost your father at such a young age. I can’t say I know how you feel because I don’t, but I can somewhat relate because I never met my father so the void is familiar. I am sending you virtual hugs right now!

    1. And it is a void and I could see wondering my whole life if I’ve never met my father. I do wish I remembered more because there’s a lot of mystery as to why I am certain ways. And I feel like maybe he could’ve related to me well.

  31. That is so much for a small child to have happen to them….for even an adult. I admire your ability to separate what happened to you from Scarlet’s own experience. I think many adults not only are not that self-aware, but would have a hard time doing that.

    By the way, is it me, or does Scarlet look like a brunette Alice in Wonderland in those photos on the porch?

    1. She would be so happy to hear that because she just loves Alice so much!
      It is very hard to separate it, and I have feared that I’ve been doing a bad job of it because I feel so anxious. But it does help to know that our experiences are different and I’m still giving her a happy start to the school year.

  32. These are the times when I feel my grief for my mom is endless, as I’m sure you do for your dad. What else can we do but just GO ON? Clearly Scarlet is well adjusted and as happy as any 5 year-old could possibly be!…and it looks like she has a great friend already. I have one question…did Athena wait for her all day?

    1. Ha! I don’t think so because Scarlet used to go to preschool and has spent long days at her grandparent’s house, but it was cute to see Athena watch for her.
      I think what you said about the grief feeling endless is so true. There are times in my life where it’s barely a blip on my radar, and then there’s times where I feel like I could be swallowed in it.

  33. I’m nearly speechless. I think I’ve shared before that my biggest fear is my kids loosing me or my Hubby. I can’t imagine being that child and thinking of them going through it honestly scares the crap out of me. I lost my father when I was in my early 20s and we were not what you would call close but the loss left it’s impact just the same. Dealing with the loss of a parent is something that can come in spurts and be trigured by other things. I am sending you hugs and love and I know you will get through this. You’re an amazing mom and Scarlet is an extraordinary little girl because of it. xoxoxo

    1. That’s definitely one of my biggest fears, if not the biggest fear. And it’s because I know the pain. And yet it still made me have bouts of feeling worthless as an adult. It’s a strange mix of being a kid left behind, and now being a parent who is NEEDED.
      Thanks for the beautiful comment.

  34. I never knew that part of your story, so I totally get where your anxiety stems from. Of course your quest for a tear free first day left me in tears, I love the moments! Hoping to see more photos of YOU though! BTW…can you have PTSD from years of surgeries, treatments, and a bad epidural?

    1. I think the story is really coming back to me in flashbacks lately. I learn as I go.
      I would love more photos of me, but I definitely don’t photograph the way you do!
      And honestly, you can get PTSD from anything. I do think I got it in small ways from Scarlet getting bit by a dog when she was one, and by Des being rushed to another hospital when he was born. However, I mostly worked through those. I think?

  35. Sending you big hugs all the way from Louisiana. I cannot imagine what you have been through, how you must have felt growing up, or the anxiety you feel as you watch your kids grow up, and thankfully not have a tragedy like you did when you were that age. I imagine just watching them at the same age as your were when all of those life changes took place is enough to bring up all of those shocking and terrifying memories. I will tell you this…you are so loved, so beautiful, and that’s inside, not just out, and the world is your stage. I truly admire the way you open up and share those fragile pieces, and I am hopeful that you feel the love that we all send when you need it most. We don’t have to be neighbors or ose to send the most heartfelt wishes your way. At any rate, I wish I was there to give you a cookie πŸ™‚

    1. I will tell you this – I kept the email that had this comment notification. I had to read it THREE times to truly feel each word. So I thank you for that.
      I think PTSD doesn’t always follow logic (or ever) and brings up things you can’t necessarily remember. I think that’s why it shocked me. My normal situational anxiety is more minimal and less severe. And it fades into the woodwork. This has been harsh and literally started the night I had her kindergarten info session. That was back in February! Then I had been mostly fine until now. Definitely related.
      I got cookies today! It wasn’t as good as seeing you, but it helped.

  36. I am so sorry that you lost your father at such a young age. I am wishing you lots of light and hugs and I cannot imagine how difficult that was for you. How did Scarlet like her first day? Did she have fun? The photos look like she made some new friends.

    1. Yeah, she loved it! She made a new friend (girl in photo) before school started at the kindergarten playdates. They’ve been so great to each other. I’ve been noticing her mention other kids’ names too. It’s awesome!

  37. You are a very strong and honest woman, Tamara, and I love and admire that about you. Being strong and honest usually means keeping emotions inside and bottled up, which leads to – bad things. I am glad that you are opening up to your community and share your feelings and thoughts with us as this hopefully will continue to help you deal with that awful tragedy of loosing your dad.
    Through your photos I almost felt like I was there on Scarlett’s first day at kindergarten. Your matching dresses, the photos on the porch with Athena in the background, Cassidy & Scarlett hugging being surrounded by the kids and moms – you really have a very, very photogenic family. And that includes you πŸ™‚

    1. It’s true. It’s the bad things. It’s like toxins. They build up. And then you either explode or implode. I usually do one or the other.
      We totally had matching dresses and that was planned! (her plan)
      I’m so glad you think I’m photogenic because I think I look like the weakest link in any group photo.

  38. First off, I just have to say how cute Scarlet is – because she’s seriously adorable with that headband and frilly dress! She also looks like she was ready to take on the world with her first day of Kindergarten. Regarding your anxieties/PTSD, etc. I wish I knew what to say. I’m grateful to have never experienced what you did at so young an age. I do believe you are stronger than you think. But that’s something you’ve got to figure out for yourself. In the meantime, we’ll all be here to provide support when you need it.

    1. That support..it’s everything! Well a big part of it. Somewhere inside I do believe/hope I’m stronger than I think. I hope, anyway.
      PTSD is a strange thing that I know very little about.

  39. I always appreciate your honesty in your posts and I truly can’t imagine losing a parent that young. My heart ache for you because I lost mine as an adult just over a year ago and it was devastating. I do wish that I can watch my own kids grow up to be adults and maybe see a grandkid or two before I pass so they don’t have to go through that tragedy themselves. You have amazing children with amazing strength and believe it or not they got some of it from you because you’re one amazingly strong woman. I’m sending virtual hugs to you and btw Scarlet is such a cutie and of course so is Des. πŸ™‚

    1. I try to believe they got some good qualities from me! I mean, I’m with them all day! And all the pets like me so I must be doing something kind and right.
      Thanks for the virtual hugs! And so sorry about your more recent loss.

  40. aw hon, I just want to give you a big hug. then tell you how much I admire you and how proud I am that you have created this wondrous world for your children. You’re amazing. gorgeous photos and so much goodness here.

    Now: your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to send young Kindergarten Jedi to fetch that R2D2 backpack for me. because reasons. we already have a Sofia one here πŸ™‚

    1. I accept it! What’s funny is that I didn’t even notice that amazing backpack until the photos later, but even then it didn’t really register until this very second.
      That’s a great backpack. I should steal it right off his back!! I mean.. ask him where he got it and then purchase two – one for you and one for me.
      And the big hug – thank you. I swear I could feel it!

  41. I can relate to this. I loss my father too when I was four years old. Just a couple of weeks before starting Kindergarten. We actually moved from our home to my mother’s hometown for a short while. So we could be closer to her family. It was actually nice being close to my mom’s family after my dad passed. We got to spend lots of time with my grandmother, aunts, uncles, and cousins. However, living in my mom’s small hometown was not for us. My brothers and I did not adjust well to our new school. I actually remember being in Kindergarten and it was the only time in school that I wasn’t liked by my classmates. They talked about me and made fun of me (I guess it was because I was the new girl but I didn’t have any friends). So we actually moved back into our home after the school year ended.
    I never thought about calling it PTSD, but that is exactly what it is. I had/have so many fears that are related to my father’s passing. When I was younger I went everywhere with my mother out of fear of losing her too. My dad died in a car accident so I was always afraid of my mom having a car accident. I had a lot of fear of losing my mom and being parentless. Now I have a fear of my kids losing both my husband and I which is why we rarely go out together without our kids.
    Losing a parent just leaves you scarred.

    1. Wow! I think you really do relate. And we were the same age(ish).
      I had a lot of fears growing up related to his death. When he passed, it made a loud noise because he was tall and he fell on the floor, so I was afraid of loud noises in movie theaters for YEARS. And I was watching Wizard of Oz around when he died, so I became really afraid of lions and tornados. Both in the movie.
      I was in a tornado, which is odd considering I grew up in NJ, but anyway. I was in a tornado and it got me over the phobia rather than worse into it. It was terrible, though.
      I’m totally afraid of my kids losing me.

  42. I was just wracked reading this. Wow. By the end I had tears welling up in my eyes… your photos told such a beautiful story in and of themselves.

    My precious friend, you have been and are going through so much. While I did not lose a parent, I can identify with the struggle with PTSD. I had a traumatic incident happen in October 2012 and I have battled PTSD. I know how it can rear its head at unexpected times.I also know what it’s like to parent through the intense emotions it brings.

    You are amazing Tamara. Your Scarlett is amazing too… and brilliant, and beautiful.

    Wishing you hugs, love, comfort, peace, and continued strength.

    1. Wow, that comment was worth waiting for. Thank you for coming back when things got buggy on my site.
      I know you have mentioned the PTSD it is such a strange thing. You just never know what is going to trigger you and how much.
      I think I have had it before, but mild. And workable. This is almost like my deep-rooted thing that I need to work out if I want to have a completely healthy life.

  43. Tamara.
    My heart hurts for you. My eyes are endless pools of tears, because I cannot even imagine the pain you carry. Yet, you do so, quite gracefully. Please never feel apologetic, your honest words are SO helpful, you have no idea. I’m quite certain there is someone who is seeing you live life, despite it all, and gaining strength from you. That my friend is inspirational. You.
    It takes a strong person to speak from the heart, and let it out.

    The pictures are lovely.

    1. I really do hope that’s true, and that someone out there is inspired by me. I am not very inspired by myself! I feel very weak lately, with flashes of the strength I am capable of. And that’s really nice. Thank you for the best comment ever!

      1. I mean what I say, and I say what I mean. You shouldn’t feel weak, you’re sharing your story, that is strong! For many years I kept my anxieties hidden now that, that was weak. Doing so did nothing for me or anyone around me. I’m better now.

  44. Sometimes the prettiest ones don’t even think of themselves as pretty. Or the strongest, the strongest. (Conversely, the most annoying have no idea either.) But they are. They all are. You’re two of those things. Hint: Not annoying.

    Pretty not just for the pictures, but also for the heart. And the courage. I always take note not of the player who excels, but the player who excels and has come far. That player is you. We see it as your readers and we see it as your friend.

    Scarlet has sass. You do too. You both have so much more going on inside your rib cages and craniums. And the combination makes me want to make sure I stick around and see what happens with it all.

    1. You think I’m pretty???
      I think of myself pretty much as dirt on the bottom of a shoe at times, so I can only hope that means something completely beautiful. Maybe somewhere.
      And when I see these kids, so full of life, hope and happiness. And even a bit of magic. Well I guess I must be radiating something good. xoxo!

  45. I am so sorry for your loss, Tamara. I understand how kindergarten gives rise to so many emotions. I am glad you felt comfortable enough to display your vulnerability. Sending hugs. xoxo

  46. I cannot imagine what you must have gone through as a child and still feeling now. I can understand how Scarlet transitioning to Kindergarten has been difficult for you but it has to help that you are sharing, putting it out there. I want to be Scarlet. I can tell from the pictures that she totally rocked Kindergarten. Oh and I love that first pic. That would be a framer for me for sure!! She looks like she is pulling you into something new!

    1. I guess that’s exactly what that photo is. So much expression in it.
      It was very hard to write this, and usually you all know I have no problem with talking about my brain. I think this is just the most deeply rooted thing I know, and I have to examine it and learn from it in order to have the life I want.

  47. I’m sorry about your loss. I really can’t even imagine. My dad stayed at home with me growing up while my mom worked. But I know you are a strong person and I loved reading this.

    Fantastic photos. So does she love Kindergarten? Natalie liked the magic carpet that was in her Kindergarten class. In fact, in first grade she was like, “Where is the magic carpet?”

    1. The magic carpet! Such a cute story.
      Yes, so far she loves it! She does get very cranky at the end of the day, but she’s not used to such long days and we are still transitioning from summer. She always seems happy to talk about the day!

  48. This is a little bit of a sad story….You know I have the same feeling…my husband’s family have a history of first born dying…his mom and his sister, then our son his first born…it is haunting me, but yes we have to be strong in similar situations, and nothing is more than powerful than our faith and prayers. I am happy for your little girl….my son will be in Kindergarten next year…it’s a huge separation and I could only wish he will always be a baby….but what can we do…life’s reality is such.
    You can do it, you’re a great mom!

    1. Wow, that is so sad and haunting. I’m sorry for your loss.
      On days like today, Thursdays, when people post their throwback photos, it does make me very sad to see such little babies of the children I know that are now grown. It makes me wonder how I’ll ever look at baby pictures of my own without crying. But I guess you do gain so much along the way.

  49. Seeing Scarlet ready for school reminds me of going off to Kindergarten myself. My little sister (only a year younger than me) was so sad that she couldn’t go to school, too. We didn’t have preschool in our little town yet. But then joy of joys! Next fall, it was her turn! Before you know it, you’ll be writing about sending Des off to Kindergarten, and how it seems so different than sending your first child off to school. And now, just thinking about that day in the future, I imagine that you’re crying all over again! πŸ˜‰

    1. Okay, maybe a little! People always say that it’s the hardest to send your youngest to kindergarten. I really hope that is not true in my special case. And if so, I swear I will have another baby before he turns five.

  50. Aww! The cutest thing is how you and Scarlet are wearing dresses with similar fabric. I love that! It makes me think about how excited I will be if I ever get the opportunity to mother a girl. πŸ™‚ Did she come home and talk your ear off? My mom said I always did. Hahaha! Des is too funny. I’m always thinking of JR when I see him. They would get into stuff if they were together. I just know it. πŸ™‚

    1. We totally planned matching dresses! She did. I really hope that she doesn’t outgrow that one for a long time. She came home and had many stories. Every day, in fact! I am loving the stories.

  51. Wait! 1st “copy” you must share (even in an e-mail) if you have too. Did something happen? Do I need to hunt someone down?

    2nd and we probably discussed this… is that Ryan RXXX School? Whoa now I am having flashbacks…..

    3rd Darling Tamara, your truth and honesty- though sometimes heart wrenching- is always breathtaking. I wish for a moment you could completely feel free of your pain.

    4th I love that Scarlet has a friend, I know that makes her transition probably easier for her (than you). She is beautiful. And yes I had promised to have Hayden write (and have never truly forgotten) time just escapes me daily. I feel awful, but I also KNOW you understand how it is.

    1. I definitely understand how that is.
      I could totally email you about the first thing you said. As for the second thing, you got the school right!
      And I appreciate your beautiful words. I have felt free of the pain for long periods of time so I do know it’s possible. I think there will be setbacks throughout life.

          1. I wore a black velvet and lace dress. I was so proud of it. Hmmm my K teacher was Ms Parsons or something like that but she was pretty old 32 yrs ago. After that I had (I think) Mrs. Harrington, Mrs Carlton (?) Mrs. Maginnis, Mrs Gerlip (my all time Fave), Ms Dz (abbreviated) and Mr Parent/Mr Clapp (lives on Rt 66) I can’t believe I remember all of that. The Gym teacher was Mr Jazab “Mr. J” he got in trouble a few years back so I doubt he is still there.

            1. I only know the kindergarten teachers so far! Well you definitely have to come visit before we go to the Holyoke Mall. Your son can hand-deliver a love note to my daughter.

  52. Beautifully written, Tamara! I felt your words and the feeling you were trying to convey., describing the loss of your dad, the bittersweet gaining of a new dad.

    What a lovely set of photos documenting her first day at kindergarten! I hope she had a great year. I hope it’s even better for go you.

  53. Oh, that last photo! Be still my heart!

    I cannot even IMAGINE what your sweet, little girl heart had to go through back then. And all the feelings that are surfacing now… thinking of you.

    And I love your coordinating dresses. πŸ™‚

    1. We totally planned the dresses!!

      I’m really examining that little girl lately – the little me. It seems sometimes like it wasn’t even me, but it was. Time to face it.

  54. I feel so sad for that little girl you back then and I think you do need a hug. I can’t imagine your pain and what you have had to live through.

    The picture of the two running off hand in hand says it all perfectly. She will be wonderful.

    1. I love that photo! And I do somewhat separate myself from that little girl and I visualize myself getting all the hugs and assurances I must’ve needed. It helps for some reason.

  55. Tamara…. I reached the bottom of this post very, very teary eyed… I can’t imagine experiencing what you did at such an incredibly young age and I would have to imagine that manifests itself into a lot of traumatic and sometimes unthinkable/inexplainable phobias. I think you are doing such a heroic and brave thing by openly discussing it here and sharing your experiences with others. That’s the best kind of therapy, in my opinion, and I hope you are constantly encouraged by the love of this blog community πŸ™‚

    Also, your daughter…. all of these pictures are so beautiful. Her holding hands with her friend, the photos of her with her poppa, you and your daughter in gorgeous purple dresses. LOVE! everything. πŸ™‚ I hope she had a great first week in Kindergarten! And I hope, too, that you are doing okay with everything momma. Please feel free to reach out anytime. Really. XOXO

    1. We totally matched our dresses on purpose!
      A week in, I’m by no means 100%, but I do feel a lot of relief. I guess it’s that I feel possible. Even if I feel like there’s still some remnants to work through right now. So I can be anxious-free for years at a time and then something like this happens and I don’t know if I am always working it out in the best of my ability. Pain will come and go but I want to feel possible.

  56. In dealing with my anxiety, my counselor had me do some exercises where I looked at photos of myself as a child and either spoke to that child out loud or wrote her letters, offering her the comfort and support she (I) was lacking. It was a powerful experience for sure. Perhaps you could pen 4-5 year old Tamara a letter? And share it with us if you feel comfortable?

    1. Katie, that is one of the best ideas I have ever heard! I haven’t gotten there yet, but my counselor does make me relive things bodily then change the scenario so that I can feel better.
      I think I will do that letter this weekend because I will be at my parent’s house and surrounded by photos of myself as a kid. You are a genius. I think I will post it Monday!

  57. Tamara, what a remarkable post. I am just going to give you a subjective outside look on yourself as a mom! Not that you asked πŸ™‚ Despite all you have gone through you are rocking it!!! I truly would have no idea that you were feeling all that these past few weeks. I feel like you do an excellent job channeling your sadness through your art and picking yourself and gettting your mom job do too! I hate to say you hide your feelings well because I don’t think you do. I think you feel them and feel them hard and then let your family bring you back to the present and you really enjoy them. Anyhow, I loved this post and I am glad Scarlet is doing so well and that you are coming out on the other side of this new beginning. You are doing it!

    1. Thank you so much! Can I ask who this is? My email didn’t tell me. I’ve definitely been thinking about this comment throughout the day and night.
      I have a funny way of feeling and showing pain. It’s my own way, and I also wouldn’t call it hiding. It might be coping or compensating or just enjoying, at the same time.

  58. Tamara, I watched my dad take his last breath last year. I had him for many years so there is no way I can know the pain you have endured, however figuring out that you have ptsd is going to be so freeing for you. Here’s to new beginnings, my friend.

    1. It is very freeing. I think admitting it and knowing it and having other people know it has been a three-step program in the healing process. At least the beginning of it.
      So sorry again about your dad.

  59. tamara, my heart aches for the tragedy you were dealt and the pain that you’ve had to cope with and endure. it’s important for us as readers to hear your story, and for you to know that you’re not alone. big virtual embrace coming at you from sf.

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