This morning I dropped my first grader off on his first day of school. You would think that since the boy has been going to “school” since he was six weeks old I would be used to it by now. I have found that it doesn’t work that way. Instead all the emotions and all the sadness just continually rear their heads until I almost grow comfortable with them.
I was standing in line to take my child into his new class and all I could think about was the day he was born. That single moment that I will be able to remember for the rest of my life. It is like my favorite painting, I know every detail, every brush stroke, every lighting effect. I can remember him as the doctor lifted him up for me to see the first time; I can remember that expression on his face and the smell. I can remember that first moment when everything in my life broke apart and became very different.
When that first hormonal surge flows through a woman’s body telling her that she is ready to be a mother, there is no voice whispering caution. The first time that need to hold a child, to have a child, to raise a child comes through, there is no moment of reflection. No single thought to change or to the revelation that life would never be the same. There is no fear, no sadness, no moments of breath-taking beauty. There is no highs and certainly no lows; and there isn’t one second that is as rich as there is with a child.
And there is no knowledge. There is no knowledge that you will have to give your child to this world and simply be strong. You have no knowledge that fate and destiny will conspire to take your child and throw them into a life that you can’t fully prepare them for. You don’t know that monsters take on dimensions that only once existed in your nightmares. And you don’t know the feeling of helplessness when you have to give your child into the keeping of a stranger.
That first day you stare at your first child you do not know this. You have no concept of this and simply can’t have any concept of this. And it doesn’t get easier with the subsequent children. Despite the fact you joke about the idea that you have been there and done that, it becomes different each and every time.
I know that I have to allow my child to learn from strangers, when truly I just want him locked in the house. I know that I have to allow my child to deal with brats and bullies, and simply watch out of the corner of my eye. I know that I have to allow my child all the freedom there is so that they will be prepared to conquer this world. But I don’t want to. I honestly don’t want to. I am perfectly okay with the idea that my children simply stay in my arms for the rest of my life.
It isn’t feasible, it isn’t healthy these thoughts; so I bury them. I don’t allow my child to see my fear or my anger. I don’t allow him to catch me running in-depth research into the lives of everyone he comes in contact with. And I don’t allow him to know that some times I can be a better manipulator than the devil himself. While I don’t let him see it, I absolutely do it. I give him the illusion that my mother gave me. The illusion that the world is nice and safe, and that those he trusts are worthy. I give him that illusion so that he can discover for himself the strength he has inside to find the truth all alone.
I can’t hold onto my children; it isn’t feasible and it isn’t healthy. But I can hold onto the thoughts. I can remember every giggle, every laugh. I can picture every toothless smile and every twirl to silent music. I can remember the wonder on their faces, and the brilliance they show when I least expect it. I can see them running into my arms, and all the times they have demanded in all their stubbornness that I snuggle with them. I can see my daughter’s wooby, and I can see my son’s special agents. I can feel my children’s kisses and hold onto to those tight hugs. I can see their smiles, their waves, and the love they give perfectly. I hold onto the most perfect love there has ever been; that between a child and their mother.
This is how I cope when I am in those lines waiting to deliver my child to someone new. This is how I handle the turns and abrupt moments of surprise that hurt my heart. This is how I handle the knowledge that my child is growing, standing taller, and walking smart each and every day. He is my “baby-mine” and while I will work hard for him to break away from me, he will never be able to leave my heart.
There will be a day when I won’t be needed to wipe his tears. There will be a day when he won’t want to snuggle with me. There will be a day when I will look up at him instead of picking him up. There are days when it is changing so fast that I want to scream. And then there are seconds when I get another moment, another second, another picture. I get one more touch to my heart to sustain me.
My son’s love is precious to me, he is perfect and he is mine. No matter how many lines I will stand in, no matter how many times I will be forced to watch him across a crowded room, I know that he is mine. And there is pride in that. There is absolute love in that. I will always push down my fear and I will always give my children all this world has to offer. Not because I want to, but because their love deserves it. And in the meantime, I will simply hold onto my thoughts.
You write about motherly love so utterly beautifully. It’s something often very hard to put into words.