My children are getting on the bus by themselves now, running down the long lane, shoving and yelling and giggling all the way. I didn’t mean for this to happen yet. They are old enough by any objective standard, but people rocket down our rural road like they are practicing for the Autobahn, and mothers are not always objective.
I thought last year that I might let them walk down by themselves soon, but then an SUV whipped by the end of the lane, driver gesturing wildly to the person on the other end of his phone, and I thought, well, not yet.
But last week the bus was coming — Mom, it is ON OUR ROAD NOW! — and Elias said, “We’ll run, we’ll run so fast!” and I shoved Levi’s lunchbox into his canvas backpack and zipped it almost shut and off they went, legs pumping and arms flailing as they balanced the weights bouncing against their backs. I watched from the front porch to make sure they got safely on board.
And that was the end of my escort duties. Having tasted freedom, they won’t go back. I have to peek now through the neighbor’s landscaping,
security blanket coffee cup in hand. Without telling them, and ignoring the smile my husband tries to hide as he indulges Mama Bear.
This is how it happens. One day you put the baby down on his blanket and turn to pick up a few toys, and when you look back, he is crawling away, intent on the electric socket. You are not ready for him to be mobile yet, but he doesn’t care about that.
I imagine it’s how it goes with teenagers, too. You are carefully monitoring your newly licensed driver’s time behind the wheel, allowing very short solo trips, say, to the bulk food store a mile away if he takes the back roads, and knowing you are being annoying but unable to stop. Then one afternoon you need to pick up his brother from wrestling practice and you’re supposed to be on a conference call for work at the same time and he offers to solve your problem. This one time, you think, and you hear God chuckle.
It’s good, really. From the moment they’re born, we start training them to leave us. It is the ordained order. I’m not so sad about not walking down the lane in a gray drizzle. It’s only that I mind the loss of the illusion that I can keep them safe.
I like it best when I can pretend that I can keep their bodies safe, their feelings unhurt, and their spirits undaunted.
Ha. That is a lot of pretending. They can’t wait for me to be done with it all.
They’ll slide away from me a little bit again. It’ll be when they’re ready to go, and not when I’m ready to let them. Soon enough, I’ll be peeking through some more metaphorical trees, hoping and praying on the front porch.
I think I’m going to need a lot of coffee.