‘If I do not get up then it will never happen.’ I tried telling myself. ‘He will just go back to bed.’ Home schooling had crossed my mind every day of the past year even though I had said that I would not teach my own kids. “Mama” there it is again, the reminder that the day was finally here. I held my tears and put on my brave face, “yes, sweetheart.” Realizing I was awake he bounded onto the bed, “get up!” “Get up! Get up! Get up!” he shouted happily as he crawled up beside me and kissed me on the cheek. I wished I could share in his excitement but at the moment my heart held a soft ache. “Ok I am up, why are you up already it is 6:00 in the morning. Don’t you know that I need my booty sleep?” “Mama you are so silly, come on! Come on, we gotta get Bwodie up.” Dragging myself from the bed I slipped on my emerald green robe groping for the zipper as I followed my youngest to his big brothers room. Brodie, who did not share in his little brother’s excitement, was buried up to his head in covers and pillows. Refusing to move or show any sign of being awake as his little brother jumped on him excitedly announcing “It is time to get up, Bwodie”. Dodging the Lego land mines I fumbled my way to his bed. “Time to get up my handsome man,” I leaned over and patted his thick back rubbing in circles trying to wake him. He rolled over hiding his head under the cool blue pillow that muffled a low grunt of acknowledgement. Wrapping my arms around his thick chest I began to kiss him on his exposed cheek and neck. A grin crossed his plump face; he might act like he is too big for a kiss but the smile told a different story. Brach, noticing his brother was finally awake, grabbed the covers and stripped them from the bed. Standing I watched as my semi-lethargic fourth grader reached for covers that were not there. The time had finally come, “Time to get up! Brach go brush your teeth and you to Brodie. Breakfast will be ready in a few. Waffles sound good?” “No I want a ham sandwich and chips!” “Brach that is what you are getting for lunch this is breakfast son.” “Oh, then I want that colored cereal. I like it!” “Ok, fine!” I turn to look at my semi-slumbering child with one eye peeking out from under a pillow, “Brodie waffles?” A muffled sound between a grunt and a yes escaped from below the pillow.
I grudgingly walked toward the kitchen. This was my babies first day of school. His daddy and I had decided last year that he was not ready for kindergarten and that one more year home with me would be best for him. That year had ended and now it was time to tell him good-bye. I felt like my best friend was leaving and moving away. Once he crossed over the threshold of this new world he no longer would need me as he had the first six years of his life. A knot formed in my stomach as we all loaded into the car.
I listened as my youngest talked about his new class and my husband telling him if he didn’t want to go he didn’t have to and that “Mommy can home school you if you don’t want to go.” I felt a twinge of guilt as I remembered Brodie's first day in kindergarten and how I had been so excited almost pushing him into the classroom. Now I begged that Brach would say he wanted to stay home. I would not have argued with him, he would have stayed home.
The walk to his classroom door felt like I was taking the walk down the green mile and when I returned he would be gone. He had the same teacher as his brother and with me being in the PTO for the past two years he was familiar with the school and the students. So I was not worried about him finding his way around the campus or having trouble making friends. Still that nagging pain in the bottom of my stomach was there.
We found his cubby together and unpacked his things putting them in places easy for him to find. Then I stood back and watched as Brach found a seat beside another little boy who looked just as frightened. When my husband placed a reassuring hand on his small shaking shoulder, the tears that began to form where not those of my sons but my husbands and mine, it was not long before the sunglasses were in place.
An ache formed deep in my stomach that twisted its fingers around my throat as I leaned down and whispered in Brach’s ear, “If you need me, all you have to do is call me.” Silently I prayed that he would. A sweet smile crossed his shaking lips followed by a quick nod.
My husband and I paused in the doorway and looked back at our baby taking a step by himself knowing that he was going to be alright. The ache that grew in the bottom of my stomach brought the realization that this was the first of many steps that my son would take alone and without me. It was then that I realized how much I truly loved him and how the pain I was feeling was a piece of my heart tearing away. Tears began to flow freely as my husband grabbed my hand to give it a reassuring squeeze. It was time to go.
The ride home was a mixture of sniffles and silence. The house was even quieter, is this what it was going to feel like when they are grown and living lives away from us. I remember my father telling me how he had cried after dropping me off at kindergarten. Just three months after my mother had passed. As he walked away from my classroom, the principal of the school walked beside him. I do not feel he meant what he said to be hurtful but truthful, “you have just lost her; she will never be completely yours again.” Dad said it was all he could do to keep from turning around and taking me home realizing in a period of six months he had not only lost his wife but his oldest daughter as well. He knew what he had to do for me that was to walk back to his truck and let me go.
I understood now why he cried and it made me even more thankful that I was alive and able to finally understand, what I knew to be true, about the undying love a parent can hold for their child. It was at this moment, in my adult life, I finally learned what it meant to truly love. You have to let go.