Most mornings I look forward to dropping this girl off at school because let’s face it, there is some relief in knowing that my hands will experience just a bit more freedom while she is occupied and cared for by another.
But every morning for the past nine months, as she has turned to wave goodbye, I’ve found myself wanting to run over and embrace her for just a second longer before we part ways.
Each day, as she glances back at me, my heart and soul are momentarily consumed with the pangs of yearning; the ache for time to slow down. The desire for her to stay exactly as she is for just a bit longer. And the longing for her eyes to stay locked on mine for just a second more, instead of turning towards those doors where she enjoys a few hours of freedom away from my watchful gaze.
And today, as the school year is coming to a close, perhaps I have felt these things even more.
It’s true that I sent her off to school this morning, prepared to soak in the last full day of semi-freedom before summer break begins. Before she again becomes mine full-time, complete with the challenges of long days spent together at home, unable to escape from one another.
But just like every other morning, I was a little sad to see her go. My heart was antsy to get a few things accomplished while I still had one kid out of the house, but it also felt anxious in knowing that she’s moving through life without me, at least some of the time.
And this is just one of the many paradoxes that mark my motherhood. Even when I want to let her go, I immediately want her back. Because without even realizing it, her little-girl days are passing the both of us by.
With each wave of her hand, she says goodbye to both me and a tiny piece of her childhood. Each wave goodbye marks a sliver in time that no longer exists. And before we even become aware of these brief passages of time, an entire year has slipped by.
All year long I’ve watched her stride through those doors, into a world that I’m not so much a part of. And many times I’ve thought to myself, “I’m going to miss this.” And I already do. I already miss it.
A day will come when she no longer allows me to give her goodbye kisses in the school parking lot. When she’s embarrassed by me or just doesn’t feel like acknowledging me with a wave goodbye. At least I assume that’s what will happen. And the thought of it veils my whole being in a cloud of melancholy.
The end of the school year seems to bring more tears to my eyes than the beginning. For I know that next year she will need me just a little bit less. She will desire just a little more freedom. She will have changed, her face slightly different, a tad more mature. She’ll be older, taller, less innocent.
So this summer, I plan to memorize her features, her mannerisms, her personality. Because in no time, all of these things will have changed, in one way or another.
I plan to take mental snapshots of the routine days of summer because I am certain that the ordinary moments will one day be remembered as extraordinary.
And by summer’s end, when I am worn and ready to let her go again, I will eagerly do so. But not without wishing for just a little more time with her.