Yesterday I stood beside my youngest son’s Kindergarten desk, blinked back tears, and wished him a happy first day of school. Then I grabbed my husband’s hand, walked out of the classroom, and left my baby at school.
Today, I sat criss-cross applesauce in the middle of our driveway, snapping pictures while my two boys waited for the big yellow bus. I am not necessarily a fan of the school bus, mainly because it takes away the control I like to pretend I have over my kids’ world. Right now, as I write this, I’m wondering what their neighborhood friends talked about on the way to school. I’m worried that LittleBrother got lost on the way to his classroom. What if the bus crashed? It’s a fun place to be, my mind.
And yet, I waited with BigBrother everyday last year, and I’ll wait with both of them each morning this year and send them on the bus. You know, minus the first day of school because I’m the mom with the giant camera and the blinking tears. I give them last minute kisses and hugs and I love yous. I remind a certain child to listen well, to talk a little less. I remind another child to eat a little faster. I hold my tongue before I start rambling on about all of the things I want them to know before they escape out of the little protective bubble of our family.
Be kind to others, even if others aren’t being kind because someone acts or looks or talks different. Keep your hands to yourselves. Don’t forget to wash your hands. Make eye contact with teachers and friends and adults and people in general. Don’t run in the hallways. Say please and thank you. OMG MANNERS IN GENERAL. Be a leader, not a follower — unless you’re not the line leader, then follow because rules. Do your best. Be proud of who you are. Don’t dumb down who you are just to make friends. If the other kids in the cafeteria get into a food fight, don’t join in; Mommy learned that lesson the hard way. If a kid is being mean to you, tell a teacher or another adult. If an adult is being mean to you, tell another adult. Your body is your own. Mommy and Daddy love you, even when you make mistakes. Mistakes are not the end of the world. Being on green isn’t the most important thing ever. But behave, because obviously. School is fun! Run as hard as you can and use as much energy as possible during recess. Your teacher wants to help you learn.
And on and on and on.
I hold my tongue as I wave. I hold my heart. I let them go. I let my heart go.
I’ve shared why it’s hard, why I struggle with this constant and recurring process of letting go. I fight the battle within myself every single day to hover; I force myself to sit down, to land my helicopter tendencies, to let these boys live without the weight of my own personal baggage pushing them down, making grooves in their shoulders, their lives. I don’t want them to pay for my insecurities, my grief, my fears with their beings. I work hard to trust in the bigger picture, to let people into their lives who will help shape who they will become, for better or worse. Please don’t let it be for the worse.
It doesn’t come easily to me. I want to surround them, cocoon them with my whole being, protect them from every outside force, from themselves, from even my failures as a mother, a human being. I hurt when they hurt, especially when I know that it could have been prevented — especially when their hurt comes from something I have done whether directly or indirectly.
One thing I’ve learned as I fight these battles with myself about mothering and letting go and doing what we feel is best for our children is this: We’re all fighting the same battle. It looks a bit different from family to family, from mom to mom, from dad to dad, from kid to kid, but we’re all doing the same thing. We want what’s best for our kids, for our families as a whole. We want to raise children who will become successful members of our society in one way or another. Even for children within the same household, the path to get to that successful member of society will differ. And that’s okay.
For some, that’s homeschooling. For some, it’s public school. Private school. School buses. Car pooling. Walking. Riding bikes. After school sports. Music lessons. Karate. No activities. Religious teachings, or not. Organic foods, or a very limited diet. Early bedtimes, or late. Video games, books, chores, allowances, showers, baths, name brand clothes, Kmart shoes, and on and on and on. The differences are to numerous to list, just like the things I want to spout of to my boys before they leave me everyday.
And that’s okay.
That — the being okay — is the one thing I’m learning to love about this parenting gig. Just because I do something in a different way or because I feel differently about sending my kids of to school (read: I’m an emotional basketcase), doesn’t mean I’m wrong. You’re not wrong. We’re doing our best.
For them. And that’s okay.
Tags:Riding the Bus