That was me.
Not the simple brush away a tear kind of cry, but the full fledge tears streaming down my face kind of cry where people look at you and nod with empathy and pat your back.
So you see my youngest guy started kindergarten today.
That’s him. I still think of him as the baby, but sigh, he’s kind of big now.
I wasn’t going to be the crying one. After all, I’ve done this – it should be easy, right?
And I was so strong – killer motivated focused strong. We got ready and went to school and he marched in. In fact, he marched in without saying goodbye to me – which led me to this frantic place of motherhood frenzy and worry.
Do I go in the room and say goodbye? No, that will make him anxious.
So I left and then the guilt and the fears about him missing me or wondering where I was and why I didn’t do the big impressive grandiose YOU’RE GOING TO KINDERGARTEN goodbyes started to pester me. Ask my biz partner Dan – poor guy – he asked how it was going and I proceeded to dump my entire mom brain onto Facebook messenger in the parking lot of the primary school.
Am I bad mom?
Should I go back in?
What if he’s upset?
What if he’s looking for me?
How could I have done that?
I can’t stop worrying.
I didn’t even say goodbye.
I feel horrible.
How could I just leave?
What if he’s the only one whose mom didn’t give extra hugs?
But, but, but in those crazy normal (because sweet mom it’s so normal) worries- I missed the power of my precocious almost six year old walking away from me in that very crowded hallway of emotional mom and dads and walking up to his teacher and putting out his hand and shakeng hers and then walking into the room.
Motherhood is about letting them go.
Letting them go.
Letting them have those moments of big. Of hopping onto stools for the first of pictures where I’m on the side. Of walking into classrooms. Of watching them fall and being there to pick them up. Of believing in them and knowing that they will be okay.
He’s the little one I’ve let go of in a hospital room as they’ve put him to sleep in my arms. He’s the one I sat with and rocked and rocked when he had influenza and we were at Children’s for almost a week. He’s the guy with the asthma and Celiac Disease. He’s the guy with the oldest sister going to college in Seattle and yet, yet here I was crying when I picked him up after school and he ran to my open arms.
I don’t know if the tears were relief or just that moment of me realizing that letting go is hard.
It’s just hard.
It’s hard to let them go and to let them be. But the truth is – he needs me to do that.
Our kids need us to be willing to let them walk through that door and for us to tuck those tears back and for us to turn around and walk out. We walk away and let them go and let them grow. I’ve left one across the country and got myself on a plane and let her go.
That is so powerful.
You are so powerful in those letting go moments. Because here’s the truth:
We do it.
We let them go and we let them discover the world and we let them discover how incredibly powerful and strong they are in those letting go days. Yes strong. My Samuel talked about how he just did it. He never told me he was that scared or any of that. Of course, hahah, he asked me to stay tomorrow, but in it all he did it.
Do you see the power in that? We give them that power every time we let them go.
I know it’s hard.
I know these are the bittersweet moments of motherhood that we know are coming, but somehow we skirt around really realizing they’re there until one day we’re face to face. And then we wonder when was the last time we did something and we work to find our new normal.
I think in a way, I wanted him to need me, but in reality he needed me to need him to be brave and strong and for me to let go just a bit more.
So those tears?
Maybe they were relief. Maybe they were joy.
But they for sure were simply unedited unashamed love.
That’s the power of being a mom.
It’s that ability to love someone so deeply that you do the hard things for them. It’s in loving them and turning around and walking out the door and sitting and watching the clock all day and thinking about them. It’s in working really really hard and making cookies and fighting for them. It’s in feeling like you’ve made a mistake and going through the list of all the worries with friends. And in having friends who love you for you simply loving your kids that much that you worry.
So sweet mom, there will be tears.
But those are tears of victory, pride, worry, love and just being a mom all wrapped up into one crazy emotion and journey of motherhood.
Today that was me.
and if you cry in the pick up line – well, we all get it, yes yes, we get it.
And now I’m the mom crying as I read this! Beautiful and oh-so-true. We’re made to let them go.
Crying now as I was leaving my kicking, screaming 3-yr old twins at Nursery School this morning. It is SO HARD. Counting the minutes to noon when I can pick them up. 🙁
That was me yesterday. My 4th child (the one who has had medical problems including 2 surgeries) went off to preschool. Big step for him, big change for us all. I still call him “the baby” and he’s 4! Thanks so much for writing this- it captured everything I feel, and reminded me that I need to let him go.
My four year old started pre-k this year. He had attended day care part time during the school year for the past two years, but we wanted him to go to pre-k this year. He walked into his classroom with little hesitation and sat down on a square like he was a pro at it. I cried. His independence was too much for me. By the end of the week, the newness wore off and he dreaded school. I went to have lunch with him that Friday, but when he saw where I was sitting (at tables designated for parents to eat with their kids), he took one look at me and said “I want to eat with my friends.” Well, okay. We moved to the tables with his friends and he barely payed attention to me. I stayed for recess and he ignored me there too. His older brother has sensory issues, is socially anxious, and clingy, so it was a whole new world for me, experiencing a kid who didn’t need mommy, who wasn’t excited to eat away from the other kids, and who didn’t stick like glue to me at recess. I know I should be happy that at least one kid is so independent and unafraid, but it actually makes me sad. 🙁
Bawling, bawling, bawling. Thank you for sharing.
Oh Rachel, I am sending you giant hugs. I am right there beside you in this struggle. My youngest of 3 started PreK this year. It is a full time program and the first time I have let my children attend school before K at all. At 4, my Abigail has taught me so much about patience and laughter. She is the puzzle piece we didn’t realize our family was missing and since she has come along life has been anything but dull. So I feel the heartache. And the pride. Letting our babies go is hard. God is it hard. The saying that goes “the days are long but the years are short” has never felt truer then it does now, as I find myself flailing about, trying to find the me I was before becoming a stay at home mama 8 years ago. I am trying to embrace this new chapter of independence, on her part as well as mine, but it is not easy to do. Some day I am certain we will look back and cherish these memories, but today, my heart feels heavy much like yours. Xoxo
As I read about your experience my own eyes welled up with tears. I know exactly how that feels, I have a 20 year old son who has left home already, (and returned a year later much to my absolute joy). And I have a four year old who is in Kinder and starts school next year. I thought it would be easy letting the little man go off to do his own thing at Kinder, hardly turning to say goodbye before he ran to join his friends…and it was, for a while. I kept thinking, I’ve been here before, I’ve got this, I’ve done the hard yards as my first went from gorgeous boy to trying teen, and I cried then. But the other day as I left it hit me like lightening, hard, fast and deep in my gut…my baby is getting bigger and I have to go through the same journey I already walked, again. I called my husband and was over come with tears of grief and longing for a good bye, a letting go that hasn’t happened yet, but I know it will. Being a Mumma is all about letting go, letting the kite out a little more each year of their lives, eventually letting the string go so that they can fly on their own, knowing that that is their birth right and destiny, knowing that you have done your absolute best to love them and give them the tools they will need to journey along in their own lives. And even though we know how the story goes it still burns and yet fills us with joy and pride. Motherhood is perhaps the most paradoxical role in the world.
Pretty sure you and I were meant to be best friends. “I forgot how to be the happy mom” : I’ve never been able to describe or explain the way I feel at the end of the night..that guilt for doing dishes instead of playing a game. Folding laundry instead of reading a book. Paying bills instead of cuddling on the couch before bed time and then all of a sudden my 4 hours of after-work time is gone…and I am. Just. So. Guilty. And now, divorcing their father, splitting custody and time…I need to focus on the project, and not the glitter that won’t come out of the carpets til next June.
Thank you Rachel, for writing what I honestly could never connect to with another person. ♡