Where Did My Baby Go?
When you’re a mom and you’re awoken countless times in the middle of the night, you dream about the day when your baby grows up. No more diaper changes, no more temper tantrums (well, at least for the most part), no more bottles. It seems like it’s going to be heaven on earth.
But, then when it starts to happen, you find yourself yearning for another sleepless night where your baby wanted you and only you. Although our kids are always going to need us in some way, it’s a little gut wrenching when they start to cast you aside.
In my experience, you can see the signs coming. It starts off with an “I do” when you try to do things for them. Then it progresses to them just doing something by themselves without even asking for your help. You walk into the kitchen and realize they’ve gotten their own snack out of the pantry and have even managed to open it even if half of it is on the floor. While you want to yell because it’s another mess for you to clean-up, the look of satisfaction on your child’s face makes you stop even before you open your mouth.
For me, those little things eventually culminated into the big day when I realized my first born was no longer a baby. It was the first day of Kindergarten three years ago. We had been building up to the big day, telling her all about “big girl” school and all of the things that went along with it…eating in the cafeteria, sitting at a desk, meeting new kids. While she had questions, she never once showed signs of being afraid. She was braver than I was! I had all the questions. What if she didn’t make friends? What if someone was mean to her? What if she couldn’t button her pants after she went to the bathroom? I was so worried about all of the negative what ifs? that I didn’t even stop to think about all of the positive ones.
What if she loved it? What if she made lots of friends? What if she was able to do everything on her own? I knew that if all of these were true then maybe she didn’t need me as much she used to. That was the tough part.
When the first day of Kindergarten rolled around, I expected my daughter to be filled with jitters and maybe even a few tears. Although she did go to pre-school, this was different. This was the big leagues. I didn’t know if she was ready for it. Good thing, she knew she was.
I remember getting her ready for school, brushing her hair, and packing her Barbie lunchbox. She was beyond excited to have a big girl backpack and lunchbox! Of course, I needed to take a picture or two of her before we left for her first day…okay who am I kidding? It was more like a photo shoot! During the entire morning, not one tear, not one “I don’t want to go”. She was in it to win it. I was the one who still needed some convincing. Although I still had a 3-year-old at home to take care of, there’s just something about seeing your first born growing up. I knew this was only the beginning of what was to come.
When we rolled up to school she couldn’t wait to get out of the car. I was the one who could have stayed put! She grabbed her Barbie book bag as we got out and started walking confidently to the door. She did throw me a bone and at least let me hold her hand until we got close to the door. As we walked through the crowd, there were plenty of kids tearing up and holding on to their parents’ hands for dear life. Not my girl. She held on but was ready to let go, in more ways than one.
The walk to the door felt like an eternity. We finally made it and I thought this is it! You’ve been strong all this time, you can cry a little sweetheart, it’s okay! Wait for it, wait for it…and nothing! Not one tear…from her! She managed to give me a quick hug and kiss, but with one wave of her hand, she turned around and was gone.
I was left standing there with my husband and younger daughter who didn’t seem fazed about what just happened. I wish I could have said the same for myself. I could feel myself start to tear up, but I didn’t want anyone to see me cry. So, I did what any other mother would do and waited until I got inside my car and started to drive away before I turned the water works on. I guess part of me wanted her to cry a little bit and maybe be somewhat sad about leaving. I could have comforted her and told her everything was going to be alright. For some reason, that would have comforted me too.
I guess it means I did my job well. She was confident and comfortable enough to leave me and do her thing. I think that’s what we all want for our children. We want them to be self-sufficient and believe in themselves as they go out into the world. But, then there’s that little selfish part that actually wants them to stay little forever because you enjoy being needed all the time, even though you may complain about it. At least that’s the case for me.
My baby was growing up. Although she would beg to differ, especially now, I still think of her as my baby and always will.
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