Change can be jarring for me. Even positive changes can feel destabilizing at times. I worried a bit that this was genetic. That I would pass this undesirable trait to my offspring. It seems the worry was all for naught. Which is pretty par for the course for me.
Nearly three weeks ago the monster started kindergarten. Due to the pandemic, he hadn’t been able to attend a formal pre-k program. He had stayed in our safe bubble. The same place he had been cared for day to day since he was a babe. Three months old to be exact. I was concerned that the transition away from this familiarity would rock him. That tears (or fears) would erupt. Apprehension that I had not prepared him properly. That I had failed him somehow.
I was so, very wrong.
That first day of school, Moose was filled with excitement. There was no dread. No unease. Mostly, I think the allure of wearing his new Minecraft bookbag may have overshadowed just about everything else. He tolerated the abundance of photos I solicited. He possessed more patience with said amateur photography than usual. Once we reached the large front doors to the building, I stooped down to eye level and let him know I wasn’t permitted to go any further. I expected a small amount of protest. Petition that I escort him into this new facility. There was none. He released my hand and strolled into the building as if he had done it a million times before. I watched his backpack disappear into the crowd. A voyeur stalking him through the window. A mask hiding my own emotion.
I briskly returned to my vehicle before the tears could fall.
It felt silly, sniffling in my car while my tiny human navigated his new hallways. He was safe. He was happy. Yet, I was having a strong emotional response. In that moment, time felt fickle. Both stagnant and abrupt.
I have watched this child grow (nearly) every day for the past five years. The inches gained sneak up on you. The advances in vocabulary trickle in. They no longer fit perfectly on your chest. Though the desire to be cradled within your arms has yet to wane, their limbs seem to spill over. The milestones seem to illuminate the passage of time. In that moment he stepped over the threshold, I couldn’t deny that he was no longer a baby.
I have said it before and I will say it again, being his mother has made me a better version of myself. Typically, when I say this, I am referring to the cycles I have worked hard to break. The occasions I have risen to for his sake. The research. The introspection. It’s all there. It has made me a better example for him. Hell, it has benefitted all relationships in my life. My communication skills. And probably a thousand other things I have yet to discover.
Now that Moose is older, he’s teaching me, merely by being himself. He is more confident than me. And braver, by a stretch. There is no part of his brain that fathoms that someone wouldn’t like him. That they would say something out of malice. He sees the world as if everyone is like him- direct but kind. That’s what he is teaching me- to let my guard down. To unapologetically be myself. The people I attract will love me for it. The others-well, there is no mourning someone that isn’t a good fit for your life.
There are ups and downs to this parenting gig. The nights he comes home overtired, unable to regulate his emotions. Devoid of all logic. Nights he thinks I am am “mean mommy”. But even on those nights- the ones that test every inch of patience I posses- he still desires the comfort of reading snuggled up to me before bed. Requests back scratches to lull him to sleep. No matter how many times I lose my temper or he finds having to clean up his toys an injustice of unfettered magnitude, our love never wanes. Our bond never broken. I am so proud to be his safe place. To bear witness to the man he is growing into.
Five years ago I feared holding him. He was in the NICU hooked up to all manner of tubes and wires. He looked so fragile. My doubt set in quickly. Uncertainty that I was equipped for the significance of rearing a human. Some days that uncertainty returns. But these five years later, I have this boy that excitedly hugs me when I pick him up from school. Requests hugs when he is saddened or scared. Bursts into the bathroom to be with me because “no one wants to be alone in here. So I will stay with you.” He shows me, moment by moment, that I am good at this. He is one of my best adventures.