We've made some changes to our morning routine around here, namely, splitting drop off duty for our little man at daycare. Initially, that was the husbands job as drop off tended to be more difficult for both parties if it were me waving goodbye.
The first couple of weeks were brutal. This was not a surprise as his separation anxiety lately has made even making dinner in the next room difficult. At school in the morning he'd wander to the sensory table, playing with the feathers or the dinosaurs, never taking his eyes off of me. Watching for the slightest shift in movement which might indicate that I was preparing to leave and as soon as I said it was time to go, the full waterworks would commence. This includes wailing and clutching on to me with all appendages with all the ferocity a thirty pound child can muster.
At home we were working hard on the concept of returning.
Me: Papa is riding his bicycle but he will be......
Me: That's right, he will be back. We will always be back.
One day last week as we drove to school I talked to the little man, explaining how this was all going to work: He was going to go see his friends, I was going to go inside with him, make sure everything was cool, then I was going to go to work and after that I would be back. Because mama always comes back.
We made it in the building, saw some little friends, found some cars to play with and as I stood up and my keys jangled he looked at me abruptly, his face concerned. I got down on my knees and hugged him tight. I said to him, don't worry baby, mama will always be.......back, he mumbled, his head buried in my shoulder and his arms around his neck. We stood for a second, wrapped up together. Bye mama, he said
Then he let go.
I looked at his teacher with surprised eyes and slowly stood and backed away, not wanting to make any sudden moves, half anticipating he would realize I was leaving and be distressed. He wasn't.
I walked down the hallway and outside feeling absolutely elated. It was my first time dropping him off that I didn't have to hear his cries through the window as I got into my car. I called my husband and left a message. You'll never believe it! Drop off was excellent! He said bye momma and he went off to play! I can't believe it! It didn't dawn on me until a couple of hours later when I re-told the story to my friend and I got to the part where I told her that he said bye momma and walked away.
Oh, I said. That just hit me.
What? she cried. You don't want him to be unhappy! No, of course I don't. He loves his school that's a good thing. Yes, yes, it's a very good thing, you are right. So what's wrong with that? Nothing. Nothing at all.
That turn on his heel, his arms releasing me, saying goodbye. That was the first time he left me. This was more awe inspiring and bittersweet than a first word or a first step. I got to be a part of those. This was all him. I received my first glance at the he that he is becoming, on his own.
There is a sign up on the day care door that you see as you are leaving. It says there are two things in life to give your children, the first is roots and the other, wings. I'd like to say I'm thrilled, proud of him. I'm excited to be watching more than his physical developments, seeing his unique personality taking over and building upon the foundation that we have created for him, but it's hard to be happy when the thing you love more than life suddenly demonstrates that it's contemplating one of it's own.