September 7, 2009

Still Letting Go

It felt like it was never going to happen. I thought the entire concept of time had been reworked, as some kind of cruel joke. Minutes began to feel like hours, days like weeks; in the end, I was certain that time was going to stop altogether. I feared I might have to go on this way forever, I worried about how much therapy I was going to need and how much all those pills were going to cost me. I lay awake at night, praying for the end. And then, suddenly, it was here. Finally. Officially. The first day of school.

not really me, but it felt a little like this

In Middle School, the bus comes at the crack of dawn, so we have a whole new routine to learn. Day One, getting ready at 5:50am went off without a hitch, blowdrying and flat-ironing included. (Don't start; you should see Jack's hair if he doesn't attempt some styling. Really.) He was cheery and bright and excited, right up until I asked him to get his picture taken before all the kids got to the bus stop (which is right in our cul-de-sac). He was mortified - "God, Mom, you're not going to take the picture at the bus stop, are you?"

Well, no, of course I wasn't! I wanted the hydrangeas in the background, just like every other year of his school life, since kindergarten. Duh! But then he was worried that I might, after the photo op, actually walk over to the bus stop with him. In my sweats. And crazy bed head. (As if all the kids there aren't used to seeing me this way by now, jeez.)

But I held back. I didn't want to embarrass him. I wanted him to go off, 20 feet away, all by himself, and be a big, all-grown-up Middle Schooler. I would wait on the porch. Camoflauged behind the hydrangeas.

That's when I started to get all choked up. No shit, after six years of this "letting go" every September, after the longest summer ever, I had a mom moment. Like the one in kindergarten. I didn't know what to do, since I couldn't risk going back in the house. What if I missed actually seeing him, physically, board the big kids' bus? But what if I lost it and someone saw me? Particularly him?

And that's where I have to thank Todd and Shawn, the parents who would never consider hiding in the bushes. There they were, bed head and all, coffee cups in hand, just like last year. Last year, when the kids still ran back for a hug if they forgot on the way up the steps of the bus. When they needed you to wave as they drove away. Todd and Shawnie were still there, and I thought, What the hell. I'm going.

So I marched right down my driveway and up to the hub of shiny-shoed pre-teens. I chatted with them and told them all to have a great day, like last year. I gave a little stay-out-of-trouble-on-the-bus advice, and let Jack know he had toothpaste on his chin, and I picked food out of Caden's teeth, like last year. And when the bus came, I hugged them all, Jack especially long, and waved as they drove away. Just like last year.

We parents stood around in our circle and jaw-jacked about stuff and drank our coffee and silently recognized that it would be our last Bus Club chat. Until next year, when that first day just really doesn't count in the grand scheme of Embarrassing Your Kids.

No matter how old they are.


  1. Aaawwwww. You're such a good mom.

  2. Oh gosh, I really thought it got a little bit easier with age, but now I see that it doesnt. I love the way your write...I will be visiting often.

    visiting from SITS!