Monday, April 15, 2013

Today's Baby

When the J-bird was a baby, he didn't sleep much. In fact, he was a "high touch" baby in general. He needed to be held a lot. By me. He screamed if I left him. He screamed if other people held him. Folks told me I'd ruined him, that it was a result of my typical first mom anxiety, that if I'd relax, he'd relax, that it was a battle of wills - mine vs. his. I'm here to tell you that he showed up that way. At his birth, he screamed from the moment they took him from my womb,through his weighing, evaluation, bath, footprinting, etc... until the moment they brought him back to me and put him in my arms. As long as he was in my arms or could see me or hear my voice, he was fine, and that lasted for the larger part of the first several months of his life. That description makes him sound awful, which he wasn't. He was a delightful baby. He smiled and laughed all the time, hit his milestones, did all the precious baby stuff. He just did all that with me right next to him, because I learned not to leave.  And it was exhausting, but what I remember most about it was the utter bliss of that boy. I had wanted a baby so desperately. It took us a while to catch pregnant, and then his birth was difficult, and then he needed me so much, but...I didn't really care. I mean, I was beat, of course, but if that's what he needed, then I wanted to spend every second with him, being his Mama. Even when he WOULD sleep, I would lie there and just watch him, because I knew that if I closed my eyes, I would open them to a different baby. Today's baby would be gone, and tomorrow's baby would be here. Because that's how fast it goes. And that broke my heart, because as much as I knew I would adore tomorrow's baby, I loved today's baby so much, it physically hurt.

I tried to explain it to James, and he tried to understand, but mainly he thought that was awfully grim and that I should get some sleep.

I have trouble with metaphorical doors closing. Even when I know that it's time for the door to close, when I know that walking through the door and closing it is the right thing to do, and that what's waiting is exciting and good, I feel sad; and walking up to the door, knowing I'll be closing it fills me with anxiety. We're getting ready to close a childhood door and open a different one. Tomorrow, the J-bird starts REAL SCHOOL.

We opted to pre-school the J-bird at home. He learned to read and write and count and do basic math and some science, and he went to social activities outside of our house a few times a week that I was not involved in, so he could get his "socialization" and physical activity in. We didn't do this because we hate preschool or because we think we're smarter than other people or because we wanted to keep him isolated from the evil world. We just really like teaching him, and it went very well. Because it went so well, James and I decided to teach him Kindergarten at home as well, with the goal always being to send him to school somewhere when he reached first grade. I bought a few bits of curriculum, and this year has been amazing and fun and sweet, and I would not trade it or change it for anything. I won't ever forget this time with my boy and my girl both learning at home, together. Has it all been rainbows and sunshine and unicorns pooping jellybeans? No. Parts of it have been challenging. I have not regretted it for one second though. Truly. It's been one of those wells of experience that has made me feel like drinking from it made me capable of anything, that I've been stretched deeper and made stronger and better for having done it. And there has been a good bit of sunshine and jellybeans in it, honestly. It's just Kindergarten, after all. I may have had a different perspective if I'd been attempting to teach pre-calc or something. (No offense to real Kindergarten teachers, who have to do this job with 25-30 of the little maniacs at once. That's a whole different bucket of worms.)

We found a little Montessori school in our town, and that's where the J-bird will be going next year. We're fans of the Montessori method, and this school is neat. (Never fear, public school advocates: our kids will eventually attend public school as well.) We know a few kids who are current students and several kids who are former students of this school, and while no school is perfect, the reports are positive. The school likes to transition kids from the younger classroom (preschool and Kindergarten) into the older classroom (1st grade - 5th grade) for the last six weeks of school, and, since the J-bird will also be going into the older classroom, he's going to transition with them. This means that, instead of his first day of school being in the Fall, it's....well, it's now. It's tomorrow.

Oh. My heart.

And I know. I get it. It's exciting. It's time. Kids go to school. They're supposed to do that. We don't want a little Normie Bates on our hands, here. He's going to make friends and learn and have adventures and expand his horizons. It's going to be so great. By this time next week, I'll wonder what the big deal was. I'm not sending him off to work in the coal mines. And Miss V and I will have so much precious girl time together, which will be amazing. I'm totally over dramatic. I need to get over myself and cut the cord. Blah blah blah.

But a door is closing. I'm going to drive him to school, walk him to the gate, let go of his hand, and watch him walk away. After six years of spending all day every day together, he won't belong solely to me anymore. He'll belong to his friends and his teacher. He'll take another step toward belonging to his own world. He's going to change. He's supposed to. It's time. That's what children do. And I have to close my eyes and say goodnight to today's baby, because I have to sleep sometime, and because that's what mothers do. It's just bittersweet. Because even though I know I'm going to love the heck out of tomorrow's baby,

I really, really loved today's baby. So much. And it always breaks my heart to see him go.

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