Jack started back to school today. Unlike me, he felt extremely ready. I started really feeling it yesterday when we had some nice, quiet time in our home while Jane napped and Jeff was at Choir practice. We pulled out a deck of cards and I taught him how to play "war" (he clobbered me). We proceeded to read the comics together on the couch, which is a favorite Sunday activity in our home. It's fun to see which ones Jack thinks will be cool (spiderman), and the ones that actually get him laughing out loud (this week, Family Circus, did you see it?). I started feeling like I wanted MORE time with my boy, when in reality, I'll have two to three hours less each day, once again.
I started remembering the week he turned four. It was a big week for a mother. Jack started school, then had his fourth birthday the next day. I was SO excited for him to go to school, something he'd been talking about for at least a year. He had already done a trial day, and we both felt very confident he would have a fantastic experience and meet many friends.
I rode the bus with him in the morning, although I got the impression I was cramping his style more than he wished. The next day (his birthday), I took in cupcakes that he could share with his friends. It hit me that night that my boy was growing up too fast. Even though Jack had been been in bed for hours already, as I lay in bed, I couldn't stop thinking about the day's events. I let myself remember when Jack first joined our family and how absolutely welcome that change was. I loved his big, bald, softball-shaped head, his ever-increasing chub, and as he got older, how he would hold onto Jeff's ears as he traveled on his Daddy's shoulders.
I couldn't help myself. I sneaked out of my bed, and slipped myself into Jack's, just to look at him. He was, and still is, just too perfect. In his sleep, he cuddled right into me and I got to hold my big baby boy once more before accepting that he has to grow up sometime. I still haven't accepted it completely. As much as I love watching his personality develop, his independence increase, and his experience with the influence of the outside world, there will always be a part of me that wants him all to myself. His poor future wife, who's going to have to deal with a mother-in-law who has tendencies to pull her boy in closer, rather than let go.
Knowing that I was going to have to share him once again with school, I felt I needed some extra time together again last night. This time I crawled (or whatever would be not graceful in my very pregnant state) into bed with him while he was awake so we could have a little chat. It was fun to lay with him and talk about our day, something we used to do nightly, but has somehow gotten lost in the shuffle of the last few months. We talked about the baby and how fun it will be to care for her together. He asked me if I was comfortable on his pillow (how nice is that?), and we discussed the latest books he is listening to. We listened a little more to his current book and he recited the funny parts. I tell you, this boy has my heart. He's a little crazy, very independent, and gives me a heart attack whenever he acts surprised that I don't want him playing with Daddy's BIG tools, but I love him. So, why is it so hard to let him go?
To you experienced mothers, is it ALWAYS going to feel this way? All it was this time was him going back on track. I dropped him off across the street, for heaven's sake! What is going to happen to me when he leaves for college? Or a mission? Or, honestly, when he gets married? Does it get easier to just let him keep growing up?
So, you'd think I was sending him off to boarding school or something, wouldn't you? I tend to go about my business and don't feel too emotional about things, but once I take a step back, I can hardly contain my emotions. Poor Jack is going to have to deal with me for years to come.
I can't even imagine what it will be like when my Jane is ready to date! Can anything prepare a mother for that?