As my friend explained, her friend was most upset because she was mourning the instantly shortened last two weeks with her son. What she thought was more time to drink him up, drink him in, properly mourn the loss of her life as a mother of one.
I'm really starting to get that. My time is winding down as a parent of just one girl. My girl.
She is many a wonderful thing, but that doesn't matter. All kids are. She is my many a wonderful thing.
On Friday morning, I went with her to tour and spend time at a local daycare. While you know that daycare has always scared me a bit, with its rampant contagions and the fact that someone else is spending more time with your kid than you, you also know that I started to see a compromise as Scarlet got older. Cassidy and I started to think that maybe sending her two or three days a week, at this point in her life, will benefit her in ways that staying home with me hasn't, at least not lately. Confidence, independence, routine, structure. Before the baby comes. Before the baby comes and then she shortly thereafter starts preschool in the fall. We don't want her to feel like she's being sent away because we have a new baby. We want her to have somewhere safe, consistent and "all her own" before, during and after the baby slam dunks into our lives.
She already shows amazing independence with my friends and her grandparents. I can leave her for long periods of time with friends and she doesn't bat an eye. She very happily goes with any of her six grandparents for whole days, or even two overnights in a row! Weekends without crying for her parents. She'll mention us fondly, but is fine without us to that point. I do find that she kind of melts into our arms after we have come back to take her home. It's an amazing gift.
For all involved:
When my parents came two weekends ago, Scarlet saw them arrive from the window. She reared back from all the way to the kitchen and flung herself into my mom's arms in the entryway. She literally clung on for 20 minutes. My mom didn't mind.
Cassidy took these next three awesome shots while I was sleeping the next morning.
"I'll have what she's having!"
It's been a strange mental journey for me since I toured the daycare on Friday. And I can best sum up my immediate reactions with excerpts from two emails I wrote that day, one to Cassidy and one to Cassidy's mom after she graciously asked me what my experience was like.
"School was really wonderful. And emotional. And exhausting. Hard to put in few words. When we got there, she was very, very clingy and unsure and as the daycare teachers said, "Well it's like throwing her in a foreign country." Slowly she'd walk away from me, but then run right back. Then she'd go farther and for longer. Then she'd freak out and run into my arms saying, "I missed you. I don't want to play with my friends anymore." So I'd stroke her and say that was ok. There was outdoor play in which she was able to borrow snowpants and boots. To go out in the parking lot, everyone is tethered. She didn't "get it" and wanted to hold my hand instead. That was fine. We played and at first she hung by me but then caught wind of what other kids were doing and would do it. Like they'd "pretend" to make food with sticks and mud and she'd run to me and say, "I made you bananas! " Or stuff like that. She kept looking at me and saying, "I'm playing, Mama!" To go back inside, she wanted to hold onto the tether and did it so beautifully I almost cried.
Back inside, the director asked me into her office and the two teachers took Scarlet back in. She ran back once or twice and said, "Mama!" in a pitiful voice and I almost lost it. I received all of the paperwork, handbook, enrollment forms and just talked to the director. I did not enroll her, sign anything or pay anything, though.
After talking with the director for awhile, I went in and found Scarlet eating snacks at a table with the other kids. Her boots and snowpants had been taken off and her red shoes were back on. She wasn't even looking for me and she was talking to Eliza and another girl, Mia, who was born July 8th 2009! It was a lot to take in. Letting her go but feeling sad about it. But hey, it has to happen whether it's now or in September.
Sorry I wrote a book. I have so much think and say about it. Mainly, our kid is an adaptable genius with a mind of her own. And she's beautiful. That's my summary."
To Cassidy's mom:
"I literally watched Scarlet blossom in front of my eyes, from clinging to me to interacting with other kids and even following routine and listening to the teachers.
It was hard and wonderful. Hard to think about letting her go, but she needs it."
That mainly says it for me. The push and the pull of letting her go and reeling her back in. For so long, weekdays have just been the two of us. Bubble baths, car rides, errands, food shopping, going out to lunch, "Starbucking." (She made up that verb on Friday) It's been a good run. And all good things not necessarily end, but come upon much needed change.
I don't think there's a parent out there who doesn't go through this, several times over in life.
It's so hard to imagine that I'm going to love someone else in about four months, differently yes, but just as heart-expandingly and as fiercely. Like a mother lion - if anyone is ever a danger to my cubs, I will gut them like a fish. Lord knows the prenatal vitamins give me the nails (claws) to do so! Love so utterly and completely.
Parenting. Sometimes even when it's not hard, it's too hard.