I dropped off Little Friend at college today. For eons, I’ve watched with dread as this inevitable day approached, and now it’s finally here. She’s up and left my life for an existence entirely of her own creating. She’s gone.
This is what my heart cried as I stood by her Preschool door.
This is also the reason I need to see a therapist. I’m dropping my child off for her one-day-a-week Preschool class where the most challenging thing they learn is that apples are red, and I can’t stop my brain from fast-forwarding to a day in the misty future when I will leave her, and instructions on laundry, and extra-long twin sheets, and Thumkin (because I really can’t imagine her without Thumkin) at a dorm room that oozes stale essence of locker room.
My heart’s bracing for the lacerations that will occur in the future. The bruises it feels today are warning throbs.
In my defense, I did manage to choke back the tears in front of the teachers who were shooing lingering parents out the door, but when I arrived home, the lonely chalkboard tossed higgledy-piggledy on the porch bench did me in. A crucial piece of the picture of my daily life is clearly missing. She’s off someplace with ten other tots, probably still rocking in the pink rocking chair she claimed as she rushed into the room purposefully (no backward glance or leg-cling with this child) or learning about the incarnadine nature of apples.
If anyone calls in the next few minutes, I will have to lie through my teeth and sniffling nose: I have a cold. Or, would you believe I just dropped my daughter off at college?
This morning my college-bound two-and-a-half year old flew out of bed in her frog-printed footed pjs. She chanted Humpty Dumpty, while her first-day-of-school breakfast of Humpty Dumpty eggs-in-toast was lovingly prepared by her daddy. My face must already have looked bereft to her as she nabbed bites of eggs. “Here, Mama. This will cheer you up!” she says as she hops and twirls around the room, green fork with half a bite of toast speared on the end. Her dance recital does earn a wan smile.
She obliges me in a first-day-of-school photo shoot.
Her chalkboard was once a slate in my grandmother’s one-room school house. Mothers care about things like this. Little Friend just liked mugging for my adoring lens.
I was happy to linger on the porch with my trigger-happy finger. Someone else had other ideas. Once in the stroller to hike to Toddler University, Little Friend lost her tolerance for my cataloguing of this milestone event. “No Mama,” she whined, “No more taking pictures. I want to go noooooowwwww!!!”
If I can survive the next two hours and four minutes (not that I’m watching the clock or anything) until she bursts back through that Preschool classroom door and into my empty arms, perhaps I can consider a longer stretch of separation. Say a college semester.
Then again, I hear they’re always looking for dorm moms, right?