Tomorrow is the first day of school for my girls. Zoe will be starting kindergarten and Lucy will be a second grader. I could do the “where has the time gone?!” rant (which I’m doing internally, of course) or, I could share with you what happened at bedtime tonight. We try to read with the girls every night. Most nights we are pretty good about it, and tonight we read three books. Three! (it's been a crazy week, three seems pretty astounding) During A Bargain for Francis, Lucy leaned over and said, “man, that Thelma is rude.” I love that kid – she said exactly what I was thinking, only was way nicer about it. And then we read The Giving Tree. I’ve read that book a ton of times and yet suddenly tonight I had some sort of epiphany about it. Perhaps I’m late to this party and you’re all like, “really? You’re JUST NOW getting that?” but I realized tonight that the tree is metaphor for parents.
I got all teary while reading because it occurred to me that this is my job. This letting go. I raise my children to the point where I have to let someone else educate them as well. I must let them go in order for them to come back. It’s silly really, and I suppose I’m being a little over the top here. But, as my girls head back for another year of school – the first where they are BOTH in grade school – I can’t help but to know how that tree feels. I’ve given my body to house theirs, my sleep to nurse them, my sanity to mother two children under two years apart. And in turn, they keep coming back for more. I want money. I want a house. I want a boat to go away from you. Someday, I know that they won’t want as much time with me, just like the boy and the tree – that they will have their own friends and need their own space. I see some of that happening already and it nearly takes my breath away. No houses or boats yet, but it’s all the same, really.
Tonight as I watched those two little sweet peas sleeping I could only think about how once I thought I might not make it through long, sleepless nights with them. Tonight I thought about how those little people are heading out into the world tomorrow. I like to think that even at five and seven they are pretty amazing and funny and smart and ready for whatever tomorrow holds. That, or they will teach their fellow students all about zombies and the Lord of the Rings and everyone will like them for that. Either way, I think they are safe…it’s me I’m worried about.