I am sitting in a quiet house. There are no cartoons on the television, no one has asked me for a snack, there is only deafening quiet. My house has not been in this quiet in 11 years. I have had a little one at home for the last 11 years! Now I have an empty house.
When Elly went for her kindergarten orientation I was barely able to suppress my tears, at one point I bit the inside of my mouth so hard to suppress tears that I had it bleeding. I dreaded this day. I had visions of walking down the hall, sobbing like an ass. When Gabe first started kindergarten I sobbed. I sobbed everyday for the first two years. He was an only child back then. When Grace started kindergarten I sobbed. She had just had surgery on her leg days before. I had just lost my oldest son months before. Grace had extreme separation anxiety and cried when I left her. When Grace started school I sobbed everyday that I dropped her off. When Riley and Rowan went to kindergarten I sobbed. They seemed so little. I looked over and they were holding hands for comfort. Rowan had separation anxiety and would cling to me when I tried to leave him. He would beg me not to leave him, to take him with me. When Riley and Rowan started kindergarten I sobbed everyday. I thought that when I left my baby, my last baby at school I would sob.... to this point I have not.
Elly is a different child than the others. She does not need me, for that matter, if I were to tell the honest to God's truth, she does not even like me that much. For some reason she just never really attached to me. It hurt my feelings, but I have learned to come to terms with it. Elly is a Daddy's girl. It did not matter how much I loved her, and I would die for her, I truly would, she does not really return the feeling. At best, she tolerates me. I love her deeply, she is my last baby, but I've been playing this motherhood game for a long time now, it's not about my feelings, it's about raising well balanced, healthy, happy kids.
Elly looked cute as a little button for her first day. She was really excited about kindergarten. She and Riley had already arranged for Riley to come and find her at recess (Riley is our little mother hen). The big kids had been talking school up for a while. Elly was ready. We arrived at school early. I took Gracie over to her school and got her settled in (she just had surgery on Thursday, so I wanted to talk to her teacher, and make sure that she would be comfortable). Christopher took Rowan, Riley and Elly over to their school for recess. I ran over as quickly as I could so that we could get Elly settled in her classroom.
The kindergarten room was bright and welcoming. Elly's teacher greeted her by name at the door, and handed her a name tag and table number. We took her over to her table and got her playing. We were only there a few minutes when Elly told us we could leave. She may as well have slapped me across the face! "Lets make sure you're settled in." I told her in my loving mother voice. "You can go home now." she repeated. I looked at Christopher and he looked at me. We kissed our last baby good-bye and left. I was happy that she had settled in so easily, but more than a little hurt that I had devoted my life to her, and she could so easily cast me aside. She is ready to let me go, but I am not so ready not to be needed.
So here I sit, surrounded by deafening silence alone with my thoughts, pondering life, but tearless. I can feel the tears under the surface, threatening. I know that I am feeling sorry for myself. The old feelings of self doubt trying to scratch their way out. That little insecure voice in the back of my head telling me that the reason my baby was so able to let me go, was because I had failed as a mother. I know this is not true, but that little mean voice is trying to convince me otherwise. I am feeling guilty that I am not sobbing.
In my 17+ years of motherhood I have learned an important fact.... no book, no plan will prepare you. You can read every parenting book that ever existed, and it will not help. Each child is different, each child is his / her own enigma, wrapped in a riddle. When you finally figure that child out, they change their game plan. When you think you know how to do it for one child, the next makes you rethink, relearn everything that you thought that you knew. Motherhood is not for the feint, the weak, the thin skinned, they will eat you alive and spit out your bones. To survive motherhood you need to let it roll off your back, to develop a thick skin. Having said all of this, there is no other profession on this earth that I would rather have. There is no higher calling than motherhood. It's not about me, it's about them, I just need to remind myself of this (frequently).