Last Wednesday I put my first baby on the big yellow bus and sent him off to school.
Well, I really didn’t put him on the bus, he walked to the bus stop by himself.
And, the school I sent him off to wasn’t kindergarten, or even middle school. It was high school.
The baby I once cradled in my arms is now 14 and taller than I am.
I’ll admit it, I walked him to our corner. Not because he needed me to, of course he didn’t. I just couldn’t let him go.
It was as if some large magnetic force was pulling me to him. I couldn’t resist.
All my friends said I had nothing to worry about, he would be fine.
Let me clearly state, I wasn’t worried about Tom.
Not for one second.
I knew he would not only be fine, he would be great. He’s an extremely capable person who handles the world far better than I did when I was in my twenties, never mind when I was a teenager.
Tom was very sweet about my almost primal need to walk with him, if only for a moment. Though he did let me know that if anyone saw me walking beside him he would deny that he knew me.
Where did the three-year-old boy who would ask me to dry his tears before I left him at preschool go?
It feels like yesterday when he had such a hard time leaving me.
Back then I had to be the strong one. I never let him know I was scared out of my mind. Or that my heart broke to leave him screaming for me. Or that I would go in my car and cry.
Back then I smiled and looked so calm and cool. I let him know that he was more than capable of going to school. I would look into those big, blue eyes, dry his tears and walk away.
But I didn’t want to leave him when he was three, and I didn’t want to see him leave me on Wednesday.
I wanted my baby back.
I wanted to go back in time when it would take me an hour to get one, tiny, very happy little baby out the door.
Tom would look up at me with his gorgeous blue eyes and a big smile, safe and cozy in his carriage or Baby Bjorn and I would melt. I loved walking all over Queens with him, meeting friends for coffee or going to a park and pushing him in a swing.
Never in my very nice life had I known such happiness and contentment.
I felt blessed to have him and blessed to be the one to take care of him.
Of course there were days when I didn’t know what I was doing, or I’d be exhausted and burnt out and would want to scream out in frustration. But even on my worst days, I knew I was living out my dream.
I did my best to burn the memories into my brain. What it felt like to hold him as he got bigger and bigger. The smell of his hair after I would give him a bath. The way he looked in his crib as he slept. The excitement on his face when he learned he would become a big brother, twice.
Each milestone he reached, I would remind myself to enjoy the moment. I wanted to never forget the feelings of joy and happiness as he rolled over, took his first step, or went down the big slide without me.
As I watched him walk down the block, I was so proud of him. And so happy for the adventures that lay ahead of him.
But I was, and am, profoundly aware that my time with him as a full-time member of our family won’t last forever. In four short years he’ll leave for college. As each day goes by, he will continue on his journey of needing me less and less.
Of course I realized this would happen.
I knew from the first time they placed him in my arms that the ultimate objective of my job was to find myself unemployed.
I just didn’t realize it would happen so fast.
Perhaps if I play my cards right, he’ll retain me as a part-time advisor.