Just last week I pulled into my driveway with a brand new baby. I took a deep breath and brought him inside our house, remembering the words of the nurse who discharged me. When worried I couldn’t handle the job without professional help, I implored her to come home with us. She smiled and told me, “Just love him. You’ll figure out the rest, I promise.”
Just last week I dropped a three year old off at St. Andrew’s preschool for two and a half hours. He was very brave and excited to be there, and I held my tears until I got to the parking lot. Then I went to Target and shopped child-free for the first time in three years. At pick up time, we both were very happy and proud of ourselves.
Just last week I dropped off my Kindergartener to school, and then spent the rest of the day baking cookies and waiting for him to emerge from the big yellow school bus. He emerged, and we ate cookies.
Just last week I sent my twelve year old to Washington, DC for a week long leadership program where he arrived knowing no one and returned with new friends from all over the country.
Just last week I gave my sixteen year old car keys for the first time and then proceeded to practice the breathing exercises I learned in yoga so many years ago. He came home, but I still continue to do those breathing exercises.
Just last week we started to receive college mailings and tour universities, but it still seemed like something very far into the future.
This week everything feels different.
As we’re counting down to the beginning of senior year, I am still pulling up to the same driveway I did seventeen-plus years ago. But there are no more car seats, diaper bags, Little Bear, and favorite stuffed bunny. There are no more babysitters, camps, play dates, comic books, Legos. I am keenly aware that this time next year, God willing, we will be packing up for college. It is simply an impossible thing for me to imagine without tears springing from my eyes.
I expected next summer to be difficult, but I was not prepared for everything I would be feeling this summer. I know I am a gifted worrier, but isn’t this a bit premature?
Just last week, when they gave me this baby to take home, no one warned me about how fast eighteen years would go by. They never told me part of the job requirement is to set him free into the wild one day, and that day comes faster than you’d ever expect. But I continue to love him, and hopefully I will figure out how to handle all the rest.