Monday, August 17, 2015

Little Good-Byes

You think I'm going to re-write the lyrics to a She-Daisy song, don't you? Well, I'm not. Mostly because that last re-write took a lot of doing. Re-writing a 12 minute song is no joke. It's a good thing I didn't have to actually play any guitar solos. {Although I rocked some air-guitar lip sync performances for like a week straight. Just ask my traumatized kids.} Let's just say I'm resting the lyrical part of my brain for now.

Fourteen years ago today, give or take a couple days, I took my oldest to her very first day of kindergarten. It was one of the most bittersweet goodbyes I had ever said. 

She was so excited to start. She had yet to have any younger siblings and was the social-est (not the Karl Marx kind) of social butterflies. She couldn't wait to learn new things and make new friends.

I felt like I had spent her whole life preparing her for this day and I was excited for her too. 

She was also a little nervous. School was a new thing. She worried about her teacher, the other kids in her class, and whether or not someone would be there right after school to pick her up. 

I was more than a little nervous. I was a first-class mess. She had been my tiny best friend from the moment she was born. I didn't know what on earth I was going to do without her every day. Add to that the fact that I worked swing shifts at the time and I didn't know if I would ever even see her after I dropped her off in the mornings. {What? I never said I wasn't melodramatic.}

Walking away after getting her settled in her class? It was one of the hardest goodbyes I had ever said.

Two more daughters have had their first day of kindergarten since then. You would think that having done it before would have made me a pro. It didn't. They were both a little more shy and more nervous than my oldest had been. That made things even harder. Cue the goodbyes. The quivering chin. The wringing of hands. The tears. And that was just me. 

This morning, I dropped my youngest off at his first day of kindergarten. My last, first day of kindergarten. {No really. My last. If I somehow became pregnant again, I would give that baby away. Mark my words.}

To him, it's the start of something new and fun. To me, it's the beginning of the end. 

I am convinced that somehow time passes infinitely more quickly as soon as they set foot in school. It's some kind of special learning-institution-space-time continuum. {I'm pretty sure there's some hefty scientific research to back me up.} 

As he both high-fived and kissed me goodbye. As I watched his monster backpack disappear slowly down the hall. As I struggled to keep the tears from streaming down my face. I thought about all the little goodbyes we say as parents. No, not the goodbyes to sanity and a full-nights sleep and a flat stomach. The other kind. The kind we say to our kids:

* The first time we leave them with a sitter. And feel guilty and relieved and terrified all at the same time.

* The first night they sleep in their own room. And that lovely night's sleep we dreamed of ends up being just an illusion. Because we get up a million times. Every time we hear them sigh on the baby monitor. And sometimes when we hear nothing. Because,"WHY AREN'T THEY SIGHING??"

* The first time we drop them off for a play date. When we swear we're going to go straight home and finally get-something-done. But mostly we just worry if they are safe and having fun. (Plus, all we really want is a nap. And a shower.)

* The first day of school. When, suddenly, we don't know who they're playing with. Or what they're eating for lunch. Or whether or not they're behaving. Or if they are happy. Or sad.

* Their first friend party. And all we can do is hope the other kids are nice. (And that they aren't playing half the games we used to play at parties.)

* The first time they eat dinner at a friend's house. And we're a little sad to see that empty spot at the table. (And we hope to heck they aren't complaining about the food like they do at home.)

* The first time they sleepover somewhere without us. And we hope they are sleeping better than we are. And missing us less than we miss them.

* The first time after they get their driver's license and they drive the car. Alone. Without us in it. And we wonder how anyone ever survives this.

* Their first date. With someone of the opposite sex. Without adult supervision. And we wonder how anyone ever survives this. (And pray that adolescent hormones have somehow magically changed since the time we were teenagers.)

* The first time we leave them standing on the porch of their own apartment/dorm room. And we smile and wave. And then sob the whole way home. 

* The times when they come home for a visit. And then leave again. Because they don't live with us anymore.

Every parent experiences different goodbyes. Dropping them off with an ex. Day care. Plane rides. Hospital stays. Missions. School trips. 

But every parent experiences goodbyes. Some painful. Some tender. Some a mixture of the two.

And practice doesn't make perfect. Each goodbye is difficult in its own way. And saying one goodbye does not make the next one any easier. Because the hardest part of holding on is letting go. 

But the goodbyes we say as parents are always temporary. Because our children are ours. No matter where they go. Or what they do. Or how much they grow up. They will always be ours.

And maybe that...that is the "good" part of goodbye.

1 comment:

  1. So sweet and so very true. So far the most significant goodbye I've experienced has been the dropping-off-at-school kind. Just thinking about anything beyond that is enough to make me want to ball up and cry. Sometimes this growing up business is just a little too much. For us. For them. But mostly for us. :(