A few years ago I became a young mom. When I was pregnant and contemplated over 18 years of doing everything for a child. It was a little
freaking bit frightening. I couldn’t look at the whole picture of parenting without a bit , or a whole lot, of fear. So I tricked myself in to believing I could parent by doing it one day at a time. I remember having my first child and thinking very cautiously that all I have to do is get up every day, feed her, bathe her, dress her, play with her, sing to her, pray with her, and get through each day. Put her to bed. And be able to get up the next day and do it again. I just had to do that one step at a time. Over and over again. Until she was grown up. Easy peasy. Holding her was so easy. Singing to her while I danced with her, I could do that. Scoop the food in, use the spoon to scrape it off of her face and put it back in again. One moment at a time. I keep her safe. I love her. I can get her through this period of time she is dependent on me until she can become dependent on herself. By the time I had Daughter Two, I was a pro at handling parenting by delusion. I’m okay with this parenting thing. Feed. Bathe. Clothe. Sing. Pray. Read books. Play. Got it.
I got it all right. I quickly fell in to a routine of loving this baby. And later, the next baby. Just do the same things times two. Love them. Love them. Love them. I didn’t need practice for that. Life went on. Sadly, those moments started to run together and quickly galloped ahead of me and right out of my carefully charted plan.
You know how life is about throwing those curve balls. Most of them knick us in some way or another. Or knock us completely simple.
Curve ball #1
The first day of kindergarten.
Sure. Some people may look forward to that. Some people are excited about their little persons starting off on adventures. I’m sure I had some of that buried beneath this totally unexpected fear that over came me. What do you mean I have to send her away to a place that is foreign and full of people she doesn’t know. What do you mean I won’t be with her every day.
There is excitement in the ‘firsts’ with your children. But there is total fear as well. When she’s with me she is perfectly safe. When she is not with me I have to trust a world that I do not trust to watch over and protect my child. I was not prepared for that. No matter how many millions of others did this before me, or after, I was not prepared.
But we did our shopping. We got the little backpacks, the lunch boxes, the clean little shoes. We did all of that. I did all of the parental duties of paperwork, meetings, and making sure she was tested. I did my part in getting her excited about it. How fun!
And the day came. She was fine. She hugged her sister. She was all spiffy and bright and shiny. She loved people and she loved happiness. She was ready to do this thing called ‘school’.
One day I took her to school. Kissed her good-bye at her classroom door. And had to walk away. She smiled and laughed. And I wiped away tears as I held on to the other one that I was never going to let this happen with.
The next day I woke up, she was married, had her college degree, and two daughters of her own.
And yesterday, what was, is again.
Another child is excited. School is waiting! Life is waiting! Learning is there for the taking! And another mommy (daddy) is standing at a school bus, or classroom door, wondering….. you want me to just walk away from my child?
And that parent takes that step, that literal first step away from their child. And life without you starts.
As you walk away, just leave that curve ball on the ground where it bounced off your head. There will be way too many to pick up.
I got many phone calls yesterday. Before school to say “I love you”s, “are you excited”, “Mamo loves you!”, “learn something fun!”.
The last phone call was the hardest…
“Mom, I don’t know if I can do this….she’s so little”. I ask her what she’s doing. She said she’s walking back to her car. That first step. That very first step. And she called….me.
I listened to her sobbing. At once my heart seized. And yet I laughed. Out loud. I told her it will be okay. I lived this moment with her through the full understanding of that same moment I had lived with her just the day before. When I had to step away from her. We talked. She sobbed. My eyes watered. But I have joy in my heart. It’s only by this letting go that her little one will become what her mother has become. It’s only by this letting go that she will be able to cheer and applaud, guide and tutor. It’s only by this letting go, that she will be able to celebrate the adventures.
For this brief moment yesterday I stood in a doorway of a foreign room, holding a baby, leaning over to kiss my child goodbye. I know this pain. I know this fear. I hurt with her. And yet… I know more, what she has yet to know. I know the curve balls are coming. I know they will be smashed out of the park. I know the excitement and wonderment ahead. I know the glory of watching a child grow. Become who they are meant to be.
I managed to take that step away. She managed to take that step away. One step at a time we learn about what we can do. As children. As parents. As family. We can do this. We can step away. We can let go. And we can hold on to everything that matters.
It happened again.
Exactly the same as it did just a few short years ago:
“”Mom, I don’t know if I can do this….she’s so little”. I ask her what she’s doing. She said she’s walking back to her car. That first step. That very first step. And she called….me.” Without knowing it she called me and said the exact same thing to me.
And we’re still all holding on.
It’s the first day.
All over again.
And there’s more first days
On the way.