At first, I was tempted by the idea of two hours alone by myself twice a week. Imagine the possibilities. A shower longer than three minutes. Long runs by myself. Maybe I'd exercise with a trainer and become one of those ripped mommas that are walking advertisements for Lululemon. Food shopping without HT constantly taking items from supermarket shelves and eating them. Typically I end up at the register with at least one apple core, two clementine peels, one baby bell cheese wrapper and two yogurt squeezers. Imagine just showing up to the register with a cart of food and no one screaming "I pay now" and lunging towards the credit card swipe.
And so I signed her up months ago and then as the start date closer, I almost lost my resolve. She's my baby after all. Can't I just hold on to her babyness a little longer? If you asked her what she wanted for Christmas, she'd answer "Frozen backpack for when my go sk-oool." She was ready. I was not.
The day arrived for her start. Bean was so kind. Bean went through the whole routine of school and who was her teacher and how to hang her coat up. Bean held her hands to her chest and looked at me with glistening eyes and said "Oh, she's getting so big!" Our resemblance to each other at this point was without question. And HT was so excited! Both my kids listened to me and were abnormally helpful getting hats, shoes and coats on as we shuffled out to the car. After I dropped Bean off, HT looked at me in the car mirror and shouted "My go to sk-ool now!"
I parked the car and walked her in. My steps were deliberate and slow. HT kept pace with mine holding my hand. She was uncharacteristically quiet. We walked in and met her teacher and she was assigned the Octopus hook. I showed her how to hang up her coat and backpack which looked enormous hanging on her tiny body. And then she walked right into the classroom. She walked in and looked around, not quite knowing what to do or where to sit. I led her to the play-doh area and helped her grab the play-doh tray. "My have dark blue play-doh!" She started rolling and cutting and seemed perfectly at ease. I stood back while she played. I went to speak to her teacher, assuming that I would stay in the background the first day to make sure she acclimated okay. It took two weeks to get Bean settled into preschool. I thought maybe a week for HT. The teacher asked me to write down my cell phone number and said I should go get coffee. She'd call if there was a problem. "I can stay," I said shuffling my feet. "No, No. Go get coffee. She seems fine. I'll call if there is a problem, " she said shooing me towards the door. I sidestepped her quickly and kissed HT on the head and said "I love you and I'm so proud of you. See you soon!" HT was still busy with her play doh but looked up kissed me on my cheek and said "My love you mommy!"
And then the tears started. I ran out the door before HT or anyone else could see me. I waved hurriedly to the other moms and booked it my car where I sobbed. With each step that my kids take forward, there is a palpable longing that I have for those moments when they needed only me; my embraces, and my kisses. Their world is expanding, and it seems in the smallest way that my place in it diminishes slightly and it makes me sad and happy at the same time.