It is insane to me how quickly these little creatures grow. One second, they're catapulting around in your belly, and the next second they're marching off into preschool without a single backward glance. Blink, and years have gone by. Holy cliche, Batman.
Last week, my son started preschool. He had his first drop-off day on Tuesday and I was sure, sure that the second I turned to leave, his sad little pouty lip would pop out and tears would spring up in his eyes. I knew he'd be scared. Except that he wasn't. I'd been telling him I'd be dropping him off and trying to prepare him for what I was sure would be a totally traumatic event. We don't leave him very often because... well, we don't ever have the money to go anywhere, so we definitely don't have the money for a babysitter. And you can only ask friends to be so generous (although I'm pretty sure we've stretched it to the limit and sucked them all dry... our friends are about the kindest on the planet). Sooo... I figured that being dropped off at a place he'd only ever been once with kids he'd only met once and adults he'd never met (apart from the teacher) would be a little scary. I assumed he'd be nervous.
Nope. He half-hugged me goodbye and waltzed off into preschool without so much as second glance back at me. I was aghast. My boy is pulling away from me already... and he's not even three yet.
It's surprising how difficult it is to loosen my vice-like grip on the cord. I never saw myself as the uber-attached parent, but now that he's trying with all of his might to pry himself away from me... I see that I am. He's my first baby, and now I understand that saying about having your heart walking around outside of your body. Oof. It's terrifying.
But it's also completely exhilarating. I'm watching him experience all of these new things and watching as he tries all the things I was scared to try when I was little. He's still timid, but he's stepping out there. The other day, a friend and I went to a playground with our babies and my big boy, and off he went to the big play structure. I watched from across the playground as he climbed the parts of the play structure he'd never dared to try. He tried this one and that one, and I found myself completely transfixed, excited and terrified, whispering to myself, "Careful, baby. Careful. Good! Good boy, you did it!" He worked around the difficulties and figured it out, all on his own. And I thought, well... that's it. He doesn't really need me anymore.
And I know he does, of course. We all need our parents- for longer than some of us would like to admit. But he's separating himself from me. And even though I'm so proud of these steps he's taking, I'm a little sad to know that they're taking him further away from me. It's a strange thing, being a parent. You want them to grow and learn, but you know that with all the growing and learning comes pain and heartache that you can't protect them from. And that part is torture.
I'm so excited to be there and watch as my oldest boy grows up and becomes his own little person. But I hate to think about all the tough parts of growing up. I hope I can help him weather the storms. I hope I can be there to comfort and reassure him, without overpowering him. I hope I can help him to feel proud and confident. I hope I can be a part of it all, without taking any of it away from him.
My heart really is walking around without me. It's a strange sensation. And part of me really likes it.