Tuesday, October 15, 2013

On Letting Go

I was really, really looking forward to this day. I had talked about it for months (occasionally with random strangers at Kroger or Meijer, anyone who was within earshot and might appear to care even slightly). As soon as Logan started preschool, I was going grocery shopping WITHOUT KIDS!

So, when his first day of preschool came, it didn't occur to me to be sad. I had spent so long dreaming of a couple of hours in which I could actually hear myself think -- whatever that means. We had done our best to prepare him for school, but little did I know that I was the one who should have been preparing.

The drive to school ended up being more than I anticipated and the whole time I was focused on getting him there in one piece. The fog was dreadful that morning, I was still getting over being awfully sick, and to make matters worse, I had completely forgotten about the detour in downtown (which can happen when one is in a mental fog).

It goes without saying that we were a bit late. Of course, this didn't phase my little dude one bit. He was seriously excited to start school. His only upset that morning was when he learned that he would not get a lunch since he wouldn't be staying the whole day. All of a sudden, he doesn't need me anymore?

Not caring about being behind schedule, he ran right in and sat down on the colorful alphabet rug. I was slightly disheartened to not get even a fist bump and I must have voiced this because the teacher told him I needed a fist bump and he obliged before heading back to the rug. I left the classroom feeling deflated. All of a sudden, he doesn't need me anymore?

Weirdly enough, that is when it finally dawned on me that my baby was headed off to school. This was the last time that I would go through the first day of preschool. Even though he will always be my baby, he's not actually a baby any longer! Then, I felt a twinge of sadness, the emotion that I hadn't prepared myself for. All of a sudden, he doesn't need me anymore?

Someone once told me that parenting is a process of letting go. I think that this definition is apt because oftentimes the littlest things suddenly take on a monumental quality -- dropping my baby off at preschool for the first time -- but if I stop and think about it with more perspective, it all seems more reasonable, more like something I can take on. All of a sudden, he doesn't need me anymore? 

No! Of course, he still needs his mommy. At four years old, though, he simply doesn't need me to hold his hand when he goes off on a new adventure. While this was very unexpected -- Mia has always been much more cautious of new experiences, a quality she comes by quite honestly -- it's not at all bad. So, he doesn't need me quite as much as he used to. This change is not as sudden as I might have thought. We have worked toward this, taking baby steps toward independence all along the way. If anything, this is my biggest success story as a parent: helping to foster his autonomy.

The funny thing is that it's harder on me, this letting go. Today, as I pushed my shopping cart around Kroger (a regular cart, not the ridiculously unwieldy race car model that I would have been forced to struggle with had my little dude been along), I felt kind of alone. It wasn't the dream "vacation" that I had mentally built it up to be. It was just a trip to the store -- minus the 3-foot-tall dictator whining for a second Dum Dum sucker because he had finished it before we even made it out of the produce department.

While it was a much quieter shopping trip, it took me that same amount of time, and I spent just as much money. (And here I was thinking that I would really up my coupon game without the distraction of my noisy little guy.) As I went past the end cap with all the Hot Wheels cars, I noticed it was quite picked over, and I was reminded of my favorite little boy who had swiped two cars on two separate shopping trips in the past few weeks -- while I was busy fussing with said coupons. As frustrating as those trips to Kroger had been after I discovered the torn-open packages, seeing that display made me smile.

It turns out that shopping without kids isn't all it's cracked up to be, at least not until I get the hang of it. For now, I am just trying to embrace my mixed emotions about Logan getting older. Excitement turned to sadness at the drop of a hat. Who knew that growing up would be harder for the mommy than it is for the little boy?

{NOT a baby, but always my baby!}

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