There's a skip in my step as I rush to the school yard. His class is playing outside and I spot him under a tree, hands in the gravel. I watch him immersed in his world for a few minutes before he notices me by the fence, and we beam at each other. So far, school's silver lining has been this reunion.
I read something that stuck with me about being fully present for hellos and goodbyes. Rachel Mary Stafford's manifesto, Hands Free Mama, clobbers you upside the head with sentiment rich in poignant lessons about letting go of distraction to grasp what matters. One of her resolutions is that when she is reunited with her kids after a separation, the world will stop for a moment so she can shine her love on them.
I want my kid to feel how much he matters and am trying to build a foundation of good habits that foster connectedness after a day of being apart. My phone is away when he spots me, my arms free to catch him as he explodes into my lap. I drink in the details of his shining face and notice how long his body seems, wrapped around me. When did my little boy grow this big? How long before he's too cool to snuggle his mama on the playground? Noticing the bitter rush of time reminds me to slow down and savour this sweet moment.
It's strange to be on the outside of his day. I used to get every reference - I knew exactly which book, Beatles lyric or exploration he was talking about. I was his translator, his other half. Now he has this whole other world of influences, and I'm searching for the questions that might crack open a window. What did you read at carpet time? Was there anything new on the activity tables? What was the coolest part of today? What was frustrating? What were you proud of? Some are dead ends but sometimes he feels like talking and I strain to hear his small voice over the passing cars as we walk home. Hungry for any scrap of information, I try to decipher the anecdotes and fill in the blanks. I wish I could be a silent spectator in his classroom and learn the new routine, learn which questions to ask, create a context for these fragments. My dear friend Yasi told me once that our kids don't belong to us. They belong to the world. That truth aches. It's hard to surrender such a big piece of his day. It's hard to let him go.
I'll hang on to the spaces in between, those goodbyes and hellos. I'll make them count.