So Kate started Kindergarten last week, and Paigey started preschool yesterday. And I’m dying to talk to you about it. Damn it.
Anyway, maybe through the Cyberspheric Alternate Plane Afterlife Postal System (CAPAPS), this letter will make it to you, wherever you are.
Not to be harsh, but the truth is that with you gone for more than five years, I’ve gotten used to having birthdays, Mother’s Days—even Christmases—without you. A sad fact.
It’s not that I don’t miss you. It’s not at ALL that. I’ve just kinda gotten used to you not being here. Resigned myself to the fact that you never met my girls.
But then one morning last week Mark and I were standing on a playground watching Kate line up with her new classmates, her sparkle-heart backpack nearly the size of her, and I was struck with such a cutting pang of Mamaness. My own Mamaness.
My little baby Kate was suddenly such a big kid. Which made me such a grown-up Mom. Which, in turn, made me want my mommy.
Mark and I were all teary as Kate-o trooped in with her class. She, of course, was smug and confident. Locked and loaded. Ready. She didn’t look back at us once.
Afterward I was trying to think of what it was that made me well up, because in the steel-willed way I no doubt got from you, I’ve always secretly looked down on the preschool parking lot criers. The weak women who can’t deal with their kid going off to school.
Butch up, ladies! Kids grow up. And school is fun.
The closest I got in my emotional deconstruction was the realization that my teariness came from being proud of Kate. How confident and funny and creative and wild and sassy she is. And sure, how much I love her.
But I give myself little credit for her dazzling Kate-ness. It’s like these kids are born and are already, well, who they are going to be. Did you think that? I mean, you had twice the daughters I do, so your sampling is far more scientifically valid than mine.
Anyway, Kate’s been LOVING her school. She’s all algow about it. She sometimes shares parts of her day, but a lot of it she seems to guard as this special thing that she just wants to ruminate on and enjoy herself. (Which obstructs my obsessive smother-mother tendency to want to know. Every. Single. Detail.)
But God, I was kind of a basket case in kindergarten, right? I remember crying and crying for you, and all the other kids were totally chill and happy to be there. Not to make excuses, but I think it sucked knowing that you were right across the street. All the kids who lived further away didn’t have the ease I did of imagining themselves back home with their mamas. From the playground I could sometimes even see you outside gardening.
How long DID I keep up the tears?
As I sit here now, on my sunny porch (on a white wicker chair you’d totally approve of), I’m bracing myself for becoming The Parking Lot Crier next week when Paige’s preschool really kicks in. Yesterday and today they required that one parent stay with their kid. We all took staggered breaks away (I’m on one now) so the teachers could see which kids really crater.
I’m kinda doubting whether it makes sense to have Paige in preschool now. Makes sense for me, that is. I mean, she’s my dumpling! She’s my sidekick. She really IS my baby. And aside from the ghastliness of missing her, with her not home I really should be doing something useful with my time. Like weaving our clothes, or spackling the tub, or assembling photo albums for each child starting with their conceptions. Or hey—here’s an idea—making some money!
Right now I could list three-hundred reasons why Paige should wait another year for preschool. But I know she is ready and happy and will love it. And I can’t let my own shit—sorry, issues—get in the way of her good time.
YOU were always so good about not letting your emotions interfere with what we did. You led the Dry-Eyed Mom Brigade at school drop-offs. You didn’t flinch when I went to college 14 hours away (12 hours if speeding). And I was the last kid to leave the nest. You never guilted me about coming home when I’d get the chance to be adopted by rich friend’s families for fabulous vacations.
So what I’d really like to know now is, was it that you were really cool with it all? Was the stiff upper lip no act? Or were you just the dutiful Mama bird, nudging me out of the nest ’cause otherwise I’d never fly?
If you could please send me some sort of sign to indicate the answers to these questions, I’d really appreciate it.
Anyway, as we pulled up in front of the house yesterday, after Day 1 of preschool, Paige announced, “Me no need you, Mama. Me big girl now.”
Did you hear me wail from whatever cloud it is you live on these days? Did you hear my car nearly take out the front shrubs as I tearily tried to park? Did you hear me walk around to Paige’s car seat and say, “Now YOU hear ME, Missy. I’m 43 years old and I still need my Mama!”?
Then I sat down on the curb and cried.
Anyway, if you could ever swing by for a visit, I’ve already planned out the day we’ll have. It just consists of us sitting around my house, drinking tea, and watching Kate and Paige play. And me asking you every two minutes, “Aren’t they great? Aren’t they so cute? Aren’t they just the best?”
I might also have you tackle some tough clothing stains I’ve been wrangling with. So don’t wear anything fancy.
Love you, Mama.