I knew it was coming. I didn’t know that it would tear me up, like a knife through my heart, every single school day. Like an amputation. My little boy was in grade one. At school all day, every day.
I watched the clock religiously – Did he have friends to play with at recess? Did he eat all of the lunch that I had so lovingly prepared? Did he miss me? Contemplations of homeschooling plagued me. My only motivation being the time we wouldn’t have to spend apart. The ultimate helicopter parent. Had the nurses really cut his umbilical cord? It sure didn’t feel like it.
We had been together since day one, gently easing our way into school with a few mornings of preschool, then kindergarten. Never apart more than three hours. Parents before me, and parenting experts galore, warn us that our children will face a huge adjustment when they begin full-time school: a sense of being overwhelmed, fatigue, the reduction in their free play time. Not to mention jealousy, with a younger brother boasting of fun-filled days with mom while he was toiling away at the salt mines.
After a week of agonizing separation (on my part, not his) I sort of accepted that this was our life. Our time together was less. This meant that we needed to make the best of the time we did have together (not an easy task when spelling homework reared its daily head). He and I have regular hot chocolate dates at the local coffee shop. I spend a little bit longer saying goodnight and discussing the day’s events. Dinner times linger, no one in as much of a rush to get back to the Lego and colouring. And we have a lot to talk about these days – schoolyard and classroom gossip.
There is so much trust in sending a child to school. I trust him to make good decisions, to stand up for himself and to take care of himself and others. I trust the school and teachers to teach him the basics and keep him safe. And I trust myself that I taught him well enough to stand confidently on his own. He’s no longer an extension of me. He is his own person and I am so proud to be his mummy, watching from the sidelines and not-so-silently cheering him on.