A Place in My Heart


It wasn’t supposed to affect me like it did.

I put on a front, feigning great relief at the fact that I will no longer be responsible for hauling an over-sized pillowcase filled with sleeping bag, pillow and favorite blanket into the daycare every week—through snow, rain, cold, heat or ice. I am, actually, relieved to relinquish that duty.

But a little sad at the thought.

More sad than I would have realized. She no longer has a bin and a cubby and a classroom to call her own. She’s a schoolager now, with a coat hook and a backpack. Now she begins to stake her claim and her territory in the world, earning it in her own right.

She’s ready of course. She needs the intellectual challenge of school, desperately. Her mind is so primed to grow. She asks questions—all the time. Constantly. She’s always pointing out shapes and colors and wondering “what would happen if?” She asks questions about numbers and wonders what this sign says or what that word means. She even has her very own library card.

For her curiosity, her willingness to embrace the world and learn about it, I am incredibly thankful.

But I am her mother. She was part of me for nine months, and I do not relinquish control so easily (not that I ever had control, even in those first nine months, as evidenced by the amount of TUMS I consumed during my pregnancy).

Friday afternoon when I arrived and realized that this would be the last day I would be picking up my preschooler, I wanted so badly to be able to pick up the phone and talk to my mother. It’s times like these that I miss my mom the most. It’s in these times that I could really use some of her shared wisdom. Or at least shared confusion. Or even just the chance to say, “Oh, Mom. I know what I’m doing. She’s ready for this. Trust me.” False confidence and bravado would do a lot for me right now.

Of course, rarely is a person, even a child, transformed in one weekend—she will not be much different on Monday afternoon than she was on Friday. My mother-in-law tells me that my husband “dropped her like a hot potato” after his first day of kindergarten, so it’s possible that after my daughter’s first day in the school-age program, my little girl will assert herself with equal force.

But I doubt it. I think she will still want a snack after school and that she will still want to sleep with Floppy Dog and hear bedtime stories. And I suspect if she has a bad dream and wakes in the middle of the night, she will not hesitate to call my name in the dark.

If she calls, I’ll come. No matter how big she gets, she will always be my little girl.

And, even if she drops me like a hot potato, which she will, eventually, and even if she thinks I am the most ridiculous person on earth who knows absolutely nothing, which at some point in time, she will, I will be there. I am Mom, her backup as she earns own her place in the world, and she will never have to earn a place in my heart.

© 2012 Michele Arduengo. All rights reserved.

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