G has been in speech therapy for almost a year. His progress has been steady and sometimes fast to the point where he is now caught up in all areas and ahead in some. He speaks in sentences, sometimes words not fully recognizable to those outside our family, and is a parrot, repeating back almost everything that is said to him. His little voice, with its affectations, completely melt me.
A few months ago his speech therapist recommended preschool, even on a part-time basis, as a way to support and further develop his speech. As it is, he spends almost all of his time around fluent talkers and it would be beneficial for him to be around children his age at the same level of speech development. We looked at several preschools, but were so late in touring/applying that there were no spots available this summer, let alone in the fall. I’d forgotten that admissions starts in January for the following year. We got on the wait-list at two preschools and I’ve kept in touch with the directors at both for months.
I got THE call a week ago that there was a space at one of the two schools we liked in their summer program. He will be starting tomorrow. As in TOMORROW, 18 hours from now! Just typing that and sharing that here makes me nauseous. He and I have been together every day of his life. And, while his older brother started preschool 4 mos earlier than G is starting, I was already back at work and my older son was such a handful that, as hard as it was, it was better for all of us that he get the structure of being at school.
With G, it is an entirely different situation. I’m not working. We spend almost every hour of every day together. And, whether that is playing at home, having a play date, going to the park, going to the Discovery Cube, going to the zoo, or running errands, he is with me, tethered by an invisible umbilical cord. Even though I don’t baby him, he IS my baby, my last child. This milestone, this rite of passage, seems the biggest and insurmountable of all other milestones combined.
Whereas our older son showed no real preference as a toddler to me or my husband, G’s preference has always been me. This is no fault of my husband who is the only other person that loves and cherishes him as much as me, it’s just that we are each others constant companion. Other than being in the care of occasional sitters, or being at home with my husband, he is always near me. I am the one to get him in the morning, I am the one he snuggles with while eating his banana, I am the one he snuggles with before nap, I am the one to get him from his nap, and I am the one he snuggles with before bed even though his daddy actually puts him down. The question my husband asks repeatedly is, ‘is he on you?’ and the answer is always yes.
And so it is with a proud yet heavy heart that we prepare to drop him for his first day of preschool tomorrow. We visited the school a few times last week, so he already knows the drill, walking through the gate, across the bike playground, up the ramp, through the second gate and across the yard to his room. He is a Bear (the theme of the summer program is Happy Trails and everything has something to do with nature). He already knows where the toys he likes to play with are.
I never thought it was possible to be joyful and sad at the same time, but it is. I love this little boy, my love for him expanding my love for my husband and older son. I am grateful to the depths of my soul for him, that he picked us as his parents and family, that he was our hail Mary pass, our last and final effort, our only remaining hope for having a second child, for completing our family.
My desire is to shelter him, keep him close and safe under my watchful eye, to have him always with me. But this is not about me; this is about him and allowing him to do something that is not only going to be fun, but so enriching for him. I love this school, the director, his teachers, the campus. He is going to get to do things we don’t often do at home. He is going to make his first friends. He is going to learn so many things from someone other than me, his daddy, or his brother. We are fortunate to be able to send him.
But, my heart. For all I went through to find my way to him, for all his being here did to heal my wounds from failure and heartache, can this time have really come? So soon? I know there is no way to stop time, there is no way to roll back the clock, there is no way to forever freeze every moment in the recesses of my mind. I also know that my love for him, my wanting the best for him requires me to do this for him. It feels so profound, so deep, causing such a cosmic shift in my psyche. Joy and sadness, sadness and joy.
G, my darling, amiable, sweet, good-natured, funny, charming, happy-go-lucky, trusting, adventuresome, smart little red-head, I love you as if you are my heart beating inside my chest. You did hang the moon my little one. I will miss you and count the hours until I pick you up, dusty and grimy and pink-faced from a morning hard at play. Yes, my little Mushy, you are going to have so much fun. For my part, I promise not to let you see me cry.