As ridiculous as it may sound, dropping my Kindergartener off instead of walking him inside has proved to be even more emotional for me than that dreaded first day was.
“Bye, Mom! Have a good day!” My boys wriggled out of the backseat like puppies and bounced onto the sidewalk. Excitedly, my youngest straightened the straps on his backpack and waved vigorously at me through the window. His little face shone with the pride of a new Kindergartener who was getting to walk into school with his big second-grade brother.
Overwhelmingly, I fought the urge to cry. (Ok, I was already kind of crying). “Bye, guys! N, walk your brother all the way to the gym! Stay with him!”
My oldest gave me the patronizing smile that he seemed to acquire overnight at age 7. “I know, Mom. Got it.” To his point, I was going over the instructions on repeat the entire drive: “Hold his hand. Walk him all the way. Stay with him until another kid in his class sits by him.”
At our school, Kindergarteners are instructed to head straight to the gym upon arrival. Seated in class lines, they wait until the teachers come to collect them and walk them to class. Until today, I’d been walking L in, sitting with him and playing “Paper Rock Scissors” and “Simon Says” until he told me it was ok for me to leave.
However, this morning was different.
“Can I walk L in by myself?” N had asked, seemingly out of the blue. “None of the other moms usually walk in.”
I was rather confident in turning down this request. My baby needed me there, and I didn’t care what the other moms did or didn’t do. But before I could respond, L, always wanting to emulate everything about his big brother, grew excited. “Let’s do drop off, Mom! I can go by myself with N.”
My mind exploded. Nope. Too soon. He’s my baby. He still has sweet, chubby cheeks, innocence, and the complete devotion to me that is slipping away little by little in the midst of my older son’s growing independence. I need to hold onto this one longer. It’s only the fourth week of school!
I don’t want to let him go yet.
Granted, I know that he’ll be fine. I certainly went through this with my oldest. As a result, he relished in the autonomy of being dropped off instead of walked in. Furthermore, I’m only dropping him off at the front steps, for crying out loud. He is well-acquainted with the school layout and the staff. He wants to be a big boy.
Yet, I’m just learning how to let go.
Currently, I’m an empty nester between the hours of 8:35 to 3:20. My new normal is what I was looking forward to in the midst of Target tantrums and diaper blowouts. Finally, I can grocery shop in peace. Likewise, I can go clothes shopping without the boys playing hide and go seek in the racks and whining about how boring it all is.
The hard truth is that both of my babies are getting older. Instead of trying to hold onto the past, I need to embrace the future. My mothering duties are far from over, in fact, we will be entering some tricky waters over the next few years. As a result, my job is to help them transition into kind, fully-functioning little people instead of trying to hold back their growth.
Yes, healthy development and boundaries and all that. So, I’m learning to let go. One drop off at a time.
“Bye, Mom! Have fun at Barre! You can stay a long time!” With one final wave, I pull away, loving the prideful delight on L’s face. This time my tears are circumvented by the fervent hope that parents within earshot realize we are talking about Barre3, my workout place. Not ‘the bar’ to drown my sorrows.