“Tomorrow, you’ll go to school like a big boy.” I said. The eyes of our 3 year old looked up at me with excitement as his little head nodded up and down with glee.
Inside, I cried and my heart ached.
When tomorrow arrived, our little trooper was ready to take on the world.
Hand and hand, my husband and I walked him to this unfamiliar world – a world that would become part of his life.
Holding back my tears, I bent down, squeezed all of my love into him and gave him a kiss that I hoped would fill him with comforting thoughts of warm cookies, snuggles at nap time and the sweet smell of play dough.
I handed him a little picture I had drawn and on it, it’s him and I, hearts fluttering all around us.
“Every time you miss mama, take a look at this picture and think of me. I am right here with you and I will always come back.” I re-assured him.
His eyes filled with tears, while I fought the raging waters that were about to spill.
The welcoming teacher opened the gate to the outdoor playground and in went our firstborn. My husband tightly held my hand and while reluctant to leave, we entered the school and began to walk away down the long corridor.
And then, we heard it. Small clenched hands banging on the glass door and a call that no mother or father would ever want to hear but will one day have to…”MAMA, DON’T LEAVE ME!!!”
My heart pounded forcefully against my chest and instinct instantly told me to go comfort our son. My legs wanted to run back and my arms wanted to embrace him and never let him go. But I knew that may make it more difficult so we continued to walk away. It took all of me not to look back………
“Tomorrow is school.” I say. This time, my audience is our three children.
“Awww…not fair…we don’t want to go back!“, they all say in unison, but their eyes cannot hide the excitement the first day of school brings them.
Tomorrow comes, and my husband and I walk with all three of them. This time, careful not to hold their hands as they’re ‘a little too old for that’.
Excited children gathering all around us brings a smile to my face as memories of my school days float all over the school yard.
We look amongst a sea of little people, all looking determined to find their place in line. I take each one of our children to their respective places and as they walk away, they each leave behind them a trail of memories.
Their eyes, while babies looking up at me while breast feeding, their first step, their first words, their first tooth. Suddenly time flashes forward in front of me. I see their first day of high school, their prom, their graduation, their first car, their first love, their wedding, our grandchildren.
I am suddenly awakened by the school bell, which reminds me that once again I need to walk away.
As I start to walk away with my husband always by my side, I wait to hear those words “Mama, don’t leave me“, but the words don’t come.
I turn around to catch the eye of my son looking over at us and as he smiles at me, I hold back my tears and smile back while thinking to myself….after all of these years, this does not get any easier.