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Now it’s my little one’s turn. Austin had his first solo day of preschool today and, let me tell you, it was not easy.  He’d already done two days but I was in the building for both, a fact he knew and clung to for comfort and security. Today was the day that I’d actually be leaving, my first of many hundreds of days ahead with both my boys in school.  I was excited, of course, for my 2 1/2 free hours, ready to have coffee with my mom and then take a pilates class. Austin? Not so excited.

As we walked from Braedan’s school to Austin’s, he complained the whole time, saying he didn’t want me to leave and threatening to not play with anyone (“not a single kid,” he said with defiance).  We arrived and he kept whining, “But Maaaaahhhhhhhmmmmmmeeeeeee.” We hung up his backpack, washed his hands and in we went. Find your name from the pile, greet your teacher, see who’s parent helping, check out the Lego table in the hopes it would be enticing . . . But instead he was in my arms with his shorter ones tightly wrapped around my neck and crying.

Ugh. The worst. I know we all do it. I know I had to do it with Braedan when he was starting preschool and Mommy was leaving him behind to go take care of his brand new baby brother.  I know if it were another new parent there, I would coach them through, telling them it will all be okay, this is just part of growing up. But somehow with Ausin, everything seems magnified. The very fact that we’re there, that he actually has the chance to attend preschool, seems like a huge deal. And, as I’ve said before, Austin is a wee bit attached to his momma.  Comforting him has been my main job and such a significant part of our relationship, beyond the normal mother-child bonds. My physical presence has been his source of strength for the past two-plus years.

But I had to go. So after I exited, the teacher brought him to the window and I placed my hand against his and said goodbye one last time, walking away while his cry filled the air behind me.

My mom had come to take me to coffee, a first day of school ritual. She had a gift for me, a little figurine of a woman holding a bird in her outstretched arms, letting it go.

Letting it go.

One of the interesting things about sending a child off to kindergarten, especially as a stay-at-home mom, is suddenly having so little information about what they do all day long. For the past five-and-a-half years, I’ve had almost complete down-to-the-minute knowledge of every bite Braedan eats, each child he plays with, how many times he uses the bathroom. And now I send him off into the world for six hour stretches and then have to patiently coerce the teeniest bits of information out of him.

I’ve learned to ask very specific questions, well beyond “How was your day? What did you do?” I know enough now to ask who the “star” of the day was, which teacher walked them to the music room, what exercises they did in gym class, whether they finished the book they started yesterday. I know to take some of it with a grain of salt, like when I asked how long rest time was and he responded, “Uuuuuummmm, oooohhhh, maybe two hours?” I can ask about the boys who sit at the “orange table” with him, although I can’t yet picture their faces.  This is a major shift after three years of parent helping at a co-op preschool, where not only could I put a face to each name but I knew which kid was obsessed with cats, which one always asked for seconds at snacktime and which one hated to play outside in the winter. I can only begin to imagine the black hole I’ll be left in when he goes off to middle school and answers all my inquiries with “Fine” or “Nothin’ much.” And then college, aaahhhh, where parents don’t even know where — or with whom! — their children sleep each night (sorry, parents of college students, for putting that thought in your heads, but really . . . ).

But he’s loving it. So happy with his teacher and excited about his new friends. He is slowly slowly slowly adjusting to the long days and early mornings, although we’ve still had many a meltdown in the late afternoon. This morning was the Father Walk, designed to get fathers more actively involved in the education of their children. So Mark took him to school and they had breakfast with several hundred others in the cafeteria. Mark said it was packed, well beyond what the organizers had expected and they ran out of food, which seems to be a pretty good sign.

So I will continue to ship him off each day into the grand unknown and will trust others to raise and watch and guide my child and then will savor the bits of his day that he shares with me. Letting go starts so early.

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February 2020
M T W T F S S
« Jan    
 12
3456789
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