I’ve been at home with you since you were born, over five and a half years. The longest I’ve been apart from you is three hours for a few mornings a week of preschool and the odd shopping trip, movie night or weekend away. I’ve never had the opportunity to miss you on a daily basis.
There were many days when it was rare for you to be more than an arm’s length away from me. We were together a lot.
When your little sister was tucked in for her afternoon nap, we built Lego. You soaked up the time alone with me. We had two overloaded drawers of Lego and two hours of quiet; our silence punctuated only by, “Can you find Batman’s head?” and “I need help getting these pieces apart!” and “Don’t look! I’m not finished yet!” Sometimes I’d doze off on your bed while you built. You didn’t mind. My presence was what you wanted.
You are in kindergarten now. I think you are doing okay. I hope so. I try not to worry that you might be playing alone at recess. I pray.
Now when your sister naps you aren’t here. I have a glorious two hours of time to myself, time I’ve been looking forward to for months. It’s a treat, but I do miss you.
Our Lego time is on the weekends or in the evenings now. It’s far more meaningful.
Our laughter together is louder and mine more genuine when you announce “I tooted Momma!” or some other silly thing.
I listen to you more carefully when you chatter away happily about school because I haven’t been listening to you all day long.
I don’t mind when you charge into the house after school like a runaway train, your backpack, bike helmet and Superman lunch bag flying around the living room. The mess is the only one you’ve made all day.
I see you, really see you, when you look at me. I’m more curious about how you feel because I haven’t been there all day to hear what makes you sad or excited or angry.
I’m more willing to answer your endless “why?” questions because I haven’t had a steady stream of them like I used to.
When we sing our off-key bedtime duets to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and The Rainbow Song I think our voices mixing together may just be a little preview of what heaven sounds like.
When I wake up in the night and you’ve snuck into the middle of the big bed, with your little breaths and your hair that smells like sunshine, your arm flung on my back, I think about how lucky we are to have a snuggly nighttime visitor for a little while longer.
You give me loud, smacking kisses on my cheek. You hug me tighter and neither of us lets go as fast as we used to.
This kindergarten thing is not so bad. It’s exactly what we needed. I love you.
(An earlier version of this post was published on The Purple Fig.)
The silence is almost palpable. My daughter is napping and my son is at kindergarten for his first full day.
In typical Murphy’s law predictability, my son stopped napping the month after his sister was born. If you’ve ever taken care of young ones, you know that naps are golden. When all the children in the house are napping there may be time for Momma to put her feet up, which is precious in the early months of four to five hours of sleep a night. When someone doesn’t nap, Momma is on duty from 5:30 a.m. (in my case) until 8:30 p.m. with no lunch, bathroom or sanity break. (Oh wait! I was on duty all night too!)
In those early, early months of being a mother of two, I would sometimes look ahead and count up the years and months until my son would head to kindergarten. Days that felt like weeks and hours that felt like days were often wrapped up in a big ball of guilt because I wasn’t enjoying every second of motherhood. It goes without saying that I love my children fiercely, but most days a break would have made stay-at-home motherhood a lot easier.
The finish line of having two young ones at home is here and I have mixed feelings. Part of my boy is still that tiny baby who I rocked for hours and sang a million verses of “You Are My Sunshine” to; the little boy who would burrow his tiny face into my chest and smile big cheeky grins as we played in the sunbeam on the carpet.
He was my initiation into parenthood. He put up with my mistakes, shrugged them off and loved me intensely anyways.
Since I’m a teacher, people have asked me if I will home school. My son is so blatantly, obviously ready for kindergarten that the thought of home schooling him just seems wrong. He’s got one foot out the door and to slam it would be to shut down this whole natural rhythm of letting go.
When his sister and I waited with him for his teacher to open the classroom door today, he was full of nervous excitement. His favourite stuffie was tucked into the new Superman lunch kit, the little doggie face peeking out to give my son the boost of courage he needed. There were no tears, from him or I. I felt a little choked up. The day was so BIG.
The bell rang and he ran into line with the other kids without looking back. I turned to strap my daughter into her stroller and suddenly felt a leg-crushing hug from behind. “I just needed one more hug, Momma.” So did I little bud. So did I.