Thursday, August 8, 2013

Away She Goes

Tonight was Hallie's elementary school open house.  We were there at 6:15 on the dot, the eager first time parents, with our eyes open as wide as the children.  We stood huddled in one corner, lost and confused. I knew we had to go to room 104-Ms. Reynolds, but I had no idea where that was.  I watched the sea of parents and children sail by, heading to their various destinations and could feel all of the chaos pulling Hallie away from me.

I have four days left.

We found her room and discovered one by one her desk, her cubby, her bin, the reading corner, the playing corner, and the trash can.  I found myself getting emotional and teary, and I smiled because at that time it was not because Hallie would be spending all day there, but rather because I would not be.  I showed Hallie the rocking chair by the big circle carpet where her teacher would sit and read her stories and talk to her about the weather and letters and numbers and words, and I wanted to be the person who got to sit in that chair.

All day long as we anticipated tonight I kept having the odd thought that I was going to meet me.  The "me" I might have been had I chosen different paths in life.  If I hadn't gotten married. Or if I had continued working after we got married.  If I hadn't had children.  Or if I had children, but went back to teaching right away.  That could be me with the well organized cupboards, and cheerful toys artfully placed in corners around the room.  That could be me meeting parents and smiling at my future students.  And for a while tonight in that classroom, I was sad that it wasn't me.

And then tonight I was putting underwear on a sleeping Hanna because she fell asleep naked, and then I was kissing Hallie goodnight and she asked me how many days until she got to go see her teacher again, and then I was holding Heather in the dark, rocking and singing as she struggled her way to sleep because traveling is hard on small bodies and we've been all over the country this month.

In the dark with Heather, singing all my favorite soft songs, her little self curled up tightly against me, I could not believe that five years had gone by since I had held Hallie that way.  And it sounds so cliche and we've all heard it a million times, but I was suddenly glad for every single one of those times she cried at night and wanted me, every time I woke up to spend time with her instead of sleeping in my bed on my cozy pillow.  Because now those times are gone and she doesn't cry for me at night anymore, and she never needs me to hold her in a rocking chair, and she will slip ever farther and farther away from me until all I have left of her is a handful of childhood keepsakes she will leave behind when she moves out, a couple pictures on the wall of her wedding day, and visits with grandchildren whenever I am lucky enough to get them.

And it all starts in four days.  The pull of the world will grow stronger and stronger, and my influence will wane until she is holding her own babies in a dark room, thinking perhaps of me, thinking perhaps of her own warm pillow and how she'd rather be there, thinking perhaps of another of her own daughters heading off for kindergarten in four short days.

I would tell all us young mothers to cherish it all, all those temper tantrums and potty accidents and spilled cereal, but I know that even when I wake up tomorrow and the whining and fighting starts I will roll my eyes and wish I were at the beach.  Those moments are good for something though, they help us appreciate the quiet moments, the ones where there is peaceful and harmonious playing, where there are hands helping set the table or making the dinner, when there are smiling faces telling  about their day, or their new best joke.

And all of it, the good and the bad and the really sticky combines together, making for one teary eyed sobbing mother that realizes that her baby is really going to walk out that door, every day for the next 13 years, and then.


Who knows?

Also, I learned tonight how much I still really, really, really need my own mama.  So there's hope.  (And my daddy, too.)

Also, side note, the boy who will be sitting next to her seems really nice, and is completely a full head taller than she is.  Hopefully they will be good friends, and he will protect her from bullies.


  1. Awww I was thinking about you the other day and wondering when her first day would be. Im so excited for all of you! She will do great! And you will do great!

  2. Aww, be strong, Amy! What a treasure to have your three little ones, soon to be four, to love you in a way that they will never love any teacher.

  3. Oh gosh. I was thinking about it all day today, too. Thinking of how glad I was it wasn't Jill. I am so grateful to have one more year. And then I start to seriously consider home schooling. But then I remember how much fun I had at school. But goodness. It is so hard to not get to see them every hour, and to not be the one who gets to see their eyes open in excitement when they learn something new. Hopefully, they will come home and tell me about all of the new things they have learned, and I'll get to see it then. Hallie is going to be so good at school! I can't believe she won't be at home to answer your phone when I call. I love you, Amy. You are a wonderful mother and an amazing teacher to your children. I used to kind of "sigh" at how hard it was on Mom and Dad when we would go home after visiting them. Now, I totally understand. I am going to be the exact same way.

  4. What a great school Hallie gets to go to! We really miss it there and I'm sure that Hallie will love it!

  5. Your mama will always need you!