As James mentioned, this week our oldest got his shots, got his eyes checked, got his finger pricked, got new school shoes and got registered for kindergarten. And to me, this generally indicates that he has started the process of being grown up and leaving us. I could cry just thinking about it. In fact I fully expect to be sobbing silently by the time I finish writing this, wiping my snotty nose and my smeared mascara for the very sadness of the fact that kids who were little get big.
I think the hard part is mostly that we have been slowly losing control as he grows up and has other influences and gets more capable and independent. The start of public school education marks a significant jump in this lack of control. He will be away from our home for somewhere around 7 hours a day where he will be interacting with other kids and taught by other adults. I realize this is inevitable and healthy. And I also realize that it is inherently irrational that I would be counting the hours he is away from home when I work away from the home for more hours than he will be gone.
But I read a blog post recently where this woman described this same feeling, this “empty-lapped” feeling where you start to notice that these kids have started to be busy with other things than holding onto your leg vice-style while you stand at the sink doing the dishes or driving matchbox cars over the stretchmarks on your belly while you lay on the couch trying to read Entertainment Weekly or pepper you with “8942-hundred” questions while you try to follow the google map instructions to a friend’s house. And it feels a little lonely, knowing that they will gradually have more and more things that have nothing to do with us.
That same blog post, she mentions how she has always felt about getting in bed at the end of the day with her husband, how it feels a little like touching down in a plane, home at the end of a trip. That feeling of relief that we all made it and we are back. I couldn’t agree more. And the kids have become a part of that. The routine at the end of the day, the finding of jammies and reading of books—it’s all a part of returning again, of touching down.
I know I have a lot of years still where the kids will be part of that touch down at the end of the day. And a lot of years of them running out to my car in the morning, demanding that I give them a kiss out the car window as I leave for work, of holding my hand a little too tightly on the escalator, of hiding behind my legs when there are new people to meet.
But it has started. The Growing up. Or I guess the better thing to say is: it continues, the growing up. And I can’t say I’m entirely thrilled to watch these landmarks pass. He’ll do great in kindergarten and I’m proud of him. But I ache a little for his chubby little baby legs, his mispronunciations, his dependence.