I didn’t sign up for this…

A kindergartener? I mean, really? This kid?

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He used to not exist. Then he was just a rumble in my belly. Then he was just this tiny thing that napped and nursed and napped and cried. I wore him in my baby wrap while slinging popcorn at The Moxie. I took him with me to coffee dates with friends. I marveled at this little creature I created (with the help of my husband). I loved how we would watch Project Runway together and how he would sit up and applaud during the runway portion of the show.

One day he became a big brother. I watched him tantrum and torture himself every time his new baby sister cried. Then I watched him warm up to her, read to her, tuck her in her bed the first night after graduating from her crib. And yesterday, I watched him hold her hand, kiss her good bye and wave to us as he walked down the hallway to his kindergarten class. “I know how to get to my class,” he said. “Really, are you sure?” I asked. “Yeah…bye mama!” And he rounded the corner. Out of sight.

Okay, I secretly followed him and made sure he arrived safely, but that’s for me to know and him to find out later…when he’s old enough to read blogs.

I am a sentimental person. I can’t get rid of movie tickets from first dates, and I cling to the first onesie my children wore home from the hospital. I should not have had children. It’s not good for someone like me. Each milestone is a knife in my chest. Each new step is a tug at my heart strings. With every journey that doesn’t directly involve me ends up in tears…my tears.

My first lasting memories, the ones without photographic evidence, start in elementary school. My baby boy is now old enough to retain what is going on, and remember this for at least the next 30-some years. He will remember his elementary school teachers, who he rode the bus home with one special afternoon, and what song he sang at the Christmas assembly (if they still do that…do they do that anymore? They certainly don’t celebrate birthdays or Halloween…). This sentimental gal is hurting over the fact that these memories are out of my hands. I spent the last 5 1/2 years devoting my life to making sure he is safe, happy, fed, and loved. And somehow I’m supposed to send him down these familiar-smelling hallways and let him grow up!?

How do mothers survive? How do we get through each new step?

Proverbs keep rolling through my brain. When the going gets tough…there’s no place like home…you can’t always get what you want…all good things must come to an end…absence makes the heart grow fonder…

My sister texted tonight that her oldest, a 2nd grader, came home yesterday, crying. I actually felt my heart sink. It wasn’t a metaphor. It actually happened. My heart got too heavy with the thought of a sad niece, and decided it needed to rest lower in my rib cage than usual. How was I to high-five my five-year-old as he went off to his soccer game? Wait. I have a child old enough to play soccer? Gaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

It doesn’t help that my little guy is probably the sweetest, gentlest, most sensitive kid on the planet. He loves to hug and kiss, to snuggle and watch movies, to share his drawings and stories, and always consider my feelings in any of his decisions. I’m ridiculously lucky to have this boy in my life. I don’t know if I actually deserve him. He’s probably one of the three best things to ever happen to me.

So, here’s to a year of new milestones. Lots of misty eyes. Hours of personal torment on whether I make the right choices or not, from packing a nutritious lunch, volunteering at his school, working a part-time job, or getting him involved in the right outlet. Being okay with doing things for myself for a change. Treating my baby girl as an individual, and not lumped together with her brother. Of being okay that his life is partially out of my hands now, and in the hands of teachers, principals, friends…

…it *does* take a village, as the proverb goes…

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