I'm sitting here, the only sound is the coffee pot brewing in the background. Silence. How many times in the last 7 years have I wished for just a moment of peace and here it is and all I feel is lonely. Today I put Maddie on the bus to kindergarten for the first time and I think it nearly broke my heart.
I've started a new job with Bella Baby photography taking the baby pictures in the hospital. I walk into the rooms of these new moms and each time I'm taken back to the moments when I first held my own babies. The nervousness, excitement and adrenaline. Those first few months and years are both joyous and difficult. Giving up a career you love, losing yourself in your little ones and the complete inablility to finish a thought or sentence. In the back of my mind during all of this was the knowledge that some day they would both be in school. SOMEDAY. Back then it was a fleeting thought that got me through some rough moments. It is as much a rite of passage for me as it is for the kids. I am no longer a mama to a preschooler or a toddler I am the mama to 2 school age little girls. Lord knows I could use a little time to myself, closets need to be cleaned, sewing can again be done and I can sit here and write a blog post without wondering what the crash was upstairs. But I gotta tell you I'll be looking at the clock and counting down the minutes until my sweet little baby gets off the bus and runs home to tell me about her day.
This is the picture of Maddie as she got off the bus at school. She has had no worries about school. "Mama, I can go to the bus stop by myself, you don't have to come" she tells me. All week she has been excited, confident and eager. When I looked at the pictures I realized I had caught the one moment when all that confidence was pushed aside and there was a little moment of hesitation. You see this is my Maddie, ready to head into any new situation, confident and calm, but there is always that look, the moment of hesitation. I know this look.
When Maddie was a baby I would lay her head on my shoulder and she would wrap her arms around my neck and pat, pat, pat my back. As much as I was comforting her she was comforting me. We have that kind of relationship. If I ever disappear upstairs to lay down and read or relax I am soon joined by Maddie. She'll brings some toys or paper and markers and just sit with me happily playing away. We don't have to be playing together to be enjoying each others company.
When I was working at the children's musuem I had a very wise early childhood mentor that talked about the invisible leash with toddlers. She explained that toddlers have an invisible leash to their mothers and if you just let them go they will suddenly stop when they've reached the end of the leash and turn around to look for you. As they grow they let out more and more line and make it further and further before they turn around. It was one of the best pieces of parenting advice anyone ever gave me. It allowed me to let my girls go, to have some freedom and to know that they would still be looking for me. I can't tell you how many times I watched as they took off with abandon only to suddenly stop turn their heads and and scan for their mama's face. Our eyes connected they would smile and turn to run some more.
I could think that with the closing of the bus and school door that the invisible leash from child to Mama is broken, but, I know that what's invisible is also magical. The length of the leash may now be measured in miles instead of feet and she may have to wait until she gets off the bus for our eyes to connect but I know our bond is still as strong as it was when she was taking her first steps.