About a week ago Jacob asked me, “Can you believe it? Can you believe Cohen’s actually going off to kindergarten?” and I barely heard him. A small film of liquid covered my husband’s eyes, but I didn’t reciprocate his emotion. Maybe it was because we had been anticipating starting school for weeks now, or maybe it was because it’s hard to feel emotional as you’re trying to figure out how to enter parents’ nights and dance classes and physical appointments in Google calendar. Maybe it’s because I had comfort knowing Cohen loves to learn and is quick to make friends (or at least find minions he can dictate rules to), and I knew deep in my gut he would love school.
But last Friday morning was a different story. We had packed his lunch in advance (a jelly sandwich with no crust– he has a rather narrow pallet.) We laid out his uniform (navy blue shorts and a white polo that is already currently stained with chocolate milk). We took pictures in the yard (he made me take one with him facing backwards so I could get a good view of his Ironman backpack.) We drove in the car together, and we held hands as I walked him down the long sidewalk to the entrance of the school.
We made our way down some steps and we met Ms. Kathy (the woman who watches the kids in before-care). I hugged Cohen and said something like “I love you, have lots of fun. Don’t forget your backpack.” And as I turned to leave I felt those emotions Jacob had been prepping me for a week earlier. I turned away, quickly blinking back tears, and Ms. Kathy smiled an all knowing, mother-to-mother smile at me as I left.
My hands gripped the steering wheel as I drove up Elden Drive. I wasn’t thinking complete thoughts, let alone coherent thoughts, just phrases that floated around my head like aimless butterflies. “He’s not a baby… but he’s my baby! He won’t ever be little again…. But he’s still so little!” And musings like “The protective shelter of our influence is opening its door to outsiders today… those kids in his class better be nice… will he remember how to peel his clementine?” And things of that general nature.
I was proud of myself as I grabbed my computer bag and purse and made one last wipe of my fingers under my eyes. I walked confidently into work and was grateful for the busyness and distractions that would inevitably ensue. But when I got to my desk, the words spilled out as I saw the first co-worker I could trust:, “I just dropped Cohen off at kindergarten,” I blubbered. And I was so thankful, because her eyes watered too, and compassion was at hand.
Today Cohen finished his second full day of school. Jacob and I “peppered him with questions” (as my brother likes to say) as soon as we got home, forgetting that the only time a five year old offers ample information is at night when he’s attempting to avoid being tucked into bed. So I lay with him tonight, kept my mouth (semi) shut, and listened. He sang songs from music and rhymes from reading; he told me about how Katie brings veggie sticks for snack and the twins both brought cows as their stuffed animals for rest time. He checked out two books about dinosaurs from the library and reminded me they are due a “week from Monday.” He told me about how he just “walked around” with a 5th grader and an 8th grader during before-care because they were doing a “mold inspection.” Which is a little worrisome, but mostly hilarious. He told me he peeled his clementine just fine.
And then we prayed, and during the Our Father, I said, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, in Cohen’s life as it is in heaven.” I pray that earnestly and a little desperately each time I drop him off at school, letting him go, releasing his tender and innocent spirit to the terrible and beautiful world.
Last Friday, I joined with the generations of mothers and fathers who pray, and then hope, and then let go. Pray, hope, let go. Pray, hope, let go. Doing what I can in the moments I’m able, all the while realizing that I’m ultimately not in control, and will never be in total control. Pray, hope, let go.
We let go of the people we love all the time. When they get in the car, when they go to work. When they travel and when they go to school. There is something in the nature of Love that is inextricably bound to the realization that we must “let go.” That we are safe in letting go, because there is a Father who governs all, who let go of His own Beloved to remind us that He will never let go of those beloved to us.