In August 1992, my parents dropped me off in Iowa City. It was my freshman year in college and once they were done getting me settled into my crowded, not fancy or decorated like the kids today, dorm room, it was time for them to leave. My mom, not usually a very emotional person, started crying.
I vividly remember thinking “Why is she crying, I’ll see them at Christmas.”
This is how emotional of a person I am. Frankly, until I had kids, I made sport out of making my younger sister cry because I was that kind of big sister. You know, the crying is for losers, kind of older sister.
I think I remember thinking “why is she crying” so clearly because in my own totally self-centered teen way – I still could recognize that this was totally normal – for a parent to be upset about leaving their child – and so it stuck with me.
Are we laughing and snickering at me just yet?
So fast forward 22 years to this past Monday, on a street corner in Maryland, when my little baby, my youngest, boarded the bus for Kindergarten.
I didn’t just tear up, I was a snorting, sobbing, wretched mess. It was an ugly ugly cry.
Eventually I collected myself. Tuesday was better, yesterday was even better. But there is still a heaviness hanging around me as the clock nears 1pm and I’m used to picking her up from preschool.
I realize I have THREE MORE HOURS.
THREE HOURS?!?!? MORE?!?!?
For the last several years, I’ve built my own social media business from my kitchen table. I’ve crammed, jammed and raced through work in between preschool pickup and drop off. I’ve cut through and tried to ignore the guilt that weighed down on me each afternoon when I had my precious afternoon time with my youngest, yet I still had work to do, and often relied on TV shows, snacks, movies and bribes to get through that time because for the working world, it was still business hours.
I felt the weight of “Should I put this computer down, she’s going to Kindergarten” pushing me down. Meanwhile on my other shoulder, my dad’s sage advice of “Don’t buy a ticket on that (guilt) bus” echoing through my ears.
I knew I was lucky that my business was growing to the point of no longer being part-time but I couldn’t very well say “Hey, could you put this project on hold until September 2014 when my baby starts Kindergarten?” At the same time, I also knew I couldn’t walk away from the projects because I deserved to have work that fulfilled me, I deserved to have work to challenge me when they go off to school, you know, I matter too. Even though my things were conflicting with my kids’ time.
And now here we are. She’s in a full day of school and I have almost a full day to get work done.
Even so, the passage of time and the cliche of how the days are long but the years are short, overwhelms me this week.
Turns out, these confusing, conflicting feelings that come with parenting, keep coming back. I am both deeply sad and almost lonely that she’s gone all day, my sweet little buddy, and at the same time, I relish the sound of silence through the house and the hours of uninterrupted time.
I think it’s safe to assume I will definitely be crying the big, ugly cry when it’s time to take her to college.