Smelly Socks: Out of my house, but not my heart
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Austin is prowling the halls as a sixth-grader this year, and Jamison has entered his last year in elementary school as a third-grader.
They are growing up fast and although I still had to drag them out of bed on the first day of school, shockingly, they didn't display any "first day of school" jitters. They had already met their teachers and they know their way around the school, they basically considered this "old hat" and nothing to be uptight about.
I think back and remember walking my oldest to his kindergarten classroom. I was apprehensive about that day because Austin had been through so much during his early years. I hated that separation that was inevitable with him starting school.
I walked my excited child into his new classroom and the strangest thing happened. My eyes welled up and overflowed. I was visibly upset.
Austin's cheeks turned pink and his eyes starting to get a little watery, then his little knees started shaking.
While I was in his classroom, his sweet teacher just smiled and acted like she understood my stress. I am sure that she goes through the "weird crying Mom episode" year after year. I am thankful for her patience and her uncanny ability to calm down a child, when their mother's cry at school and get them upset.
To avoid alarming him even more, I gave him a quick hug and a kiss on the cheek as I retreated to the safety of my car.
On the way to the parking lot, I ran into some mothers who I knew, and like me, were upset and crying. A few of the mothers, who were familiar with the whole child drop off routine, looked at me with sympathetic eyes. They smiled at me and said, "Don't worry; this is part of their growing up."
I thought that I might be slightly upset leaving my unsuspecting child to the cold, hard world of school. But, I was actually distraught.
I sat in my car in the parking lot for 30 minutes calming myself down. I finally became composed enough to drive home.
Austin to this day is still embarrassed of how his kindergarten drop-off went down, and has banned me from ever walking him inside again. It seems I am banned for life.
Then it was time for my youngest, Jamison, to go to nursery school. He was to go to school on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
That first Tuesday has never been as dreaded as it was by me. I garnered all my strength, said a little prayer for grace, and took Jamison's hand and lead him through the school's door.
We took his backpack and lunchbox to his cubby, I pushed his glasses up on his nose a little and then I quietly whispered for him to give me a hug.
Jamison sighed, "OK, now go bye-bye Momma."
With that response he was off. No looking back, no crying as the other children were doing, no fear in his steps.
He was happy and secure in himself. He was having the time of his life, and I was no longer needed. He was ready. He was independent and he was doing things his way. He was a leader among the other insecure children. Jamison was in his element.
I walked to my car, rather defeated. I felt my eyes starting to burn, not for Jamison, but for my sorrow of losing my youngest son.
My buddy was finding new friends, and I would have to settle for just being "Mom."
Then I stopped. He wasn't upset, why should I be?
I raised him to be strong and capable and as 3-year-olds go, he was a star. He was bright, polite, secure, strong-willed, independent and stubborn.
He and I didn't need the drama of being upset. I felt relieved, bewildered and strangely satisfied that I did a good job of preparing him for the outside world, or at least, for nursery school.
This year my boys each had stellar first days of school. They love their teachers and are excited about their classes. As they grow I know that we still have many more "first days" ahead of us. We have first girlfriends, first cars, first heartbreak, first day of college and first jobs to look forward to.
I am sure that I will be sitting on pens and needles waiting to get details from them and hear all about it. I hope that they will be patient with me then, as they are now and indulge my curiosity. I like to remind them, "Momma knows best, and she likes to know it all."
My boy's might be out of the house, but they will never out of my heart.
Johanna Bloom is a proud seventh generation Texan. She lives on her family's South Texas ranch with her husband and two lively boys. Email Johanna Bloom or Anita Spisak at firstname.lastname@example.org.