Today you started preschool. You have officially done something that your mother never did. When you figure out how to pee standing up, well, then you’ll have another one on me.
In the weeks and days leading up to the start of school, I was excited. Having time to myself again was like an oasis in the desert of no napping we’ve been experiencing since February. Other mothers in our circle worried they’d be weepy or find it hard to let go. I laughed it off. What were they thinking? I was about to taste freedom. I counted down the days.
And then I woke up this morning. It was upon me. You were going to have this new adventure that I would have no part in other than as chauffeur. You were going to have experiences that I wouldn’t be able to witness. You were going to leave me.
Your daddy and I took the obligatory first day photos on the front porch that you didn’t want to sit still for. Typical. You insisted when I buckled you in the car seat that I was going to school with you. I breezily reminded you that you went to school by yourself and mommy would be going to the dentist. Your daddy and I drove you together. As we approached the front of the drop-off line, I began to tense up, anticipating the tantrum that would ensue when you saw that mommy wasn’t, in fact, going to school with you.
The carpool lady opened the car door. You loudly announced:
“This is my school!” Then you walked off, hand-in-hand, with this stranger, bag slung across your shoulder, head moving around as you took it all in, not looking back once.
And I cried. I cried because you were doing exactly what I wanted you to do. You were confident and secure. You were headed off to learn and grow and continue to develop the you-ness that I fall more and more in love with every day. Yet part of me wanted badly to hold on. To snap you back in that seat and speed off. To pretend it never happened and cancel that tuition check.
The best part of being your mommy is what I learn from you. Today, I learned to let go. This new separate journey that we will take three days a week means you will have more to share, I will have more to give and together, we will forge new paths in this relationship between mother and son.
By the time I picked you up, I couldn’t wait. Not because I’d missed you – I mean, it was quiet without you, but I also managed to get my teeth cleaned and spend an hour doing nothing, which was really nice – but I couldn’t wait to hear about your day.
And you didn’t disappoint. You were covered in paint from face to knees and beaming when you climbed in the car. You insisted on holding your bag all the way home. You excitedly told me all about the “dirt” you played in with a dump truck, the playground, that you painted a bus and a bee, there was a Dora potty and had snack at a table.
I am so proud of you, peanut. You are taking the first steps on your own journey, armed with whatever it is that your daddy and I are trying to teach you, and I have no doubt you will find joy, success and perhaps a bit more paint.
Good luck this year, peanut!