He’s Letting Me Go.

Leaving Nathan in the care of others has never been easy. We’ve struggled since the beginning. Each new setting sent him reeling.  Night terrors and fear of the dark created sleepless nights giving way to cranky mornings.  He would protest leaving the house and cry at drop off, my heart heavy from boatloads of mommy guilt.  Just as he would get used to one routine, a season or teacher would change.  It seemed endless.

By September, when he entered kindergarten, I was braced for the worst.  He was going to a new school, with a new teacher, with all new kids.  There was nothing familiar to grasp for comfort.  I talked up how great it would be, always careful not to say too much.  I’d walk the tightrope of building up anticipation without building up anxiety, constantly teetering to the wrong side.

Things went exactly how I thought they would.  He cried. He pulled on my arm and tried to drag me back home.  More night terrors, more fears, more difficult mornings. He began to have some degree of comfort by mid-October, then his classroom assignment was changed. After only two weeks with his new teacher, Superstorm Sandy knocked him out of school for a week.  November’s on-again off-again schedule lacked the consistency we needed.  By the holiday break in December, I was ready to homeschool.

Winter was long. On good days, we’d arrive at the same time as a friend who would encourage him to walk in.  On a bad day, we’d stand outside huddled against the cold, with me gently but impatiently urging him to please, just go inside.

But spring has awakened something in this boy.  He is peppier, happier.  He is eager to see his friends or tell his teacher about his weekends.  He doesn’t cry when I leave him.

On Monday, we walked to school in the rain.  I stopped a few feet from the door; he kept walking.

“Nathan, come say goodbye.”

“Bye,” he said with a half-hearted wave.

“Come here, please.”

He sighed and came to me.

“Goodbye, I love you, have a great day!” I chirped as I leaned in to kiss him.

He turned his face.

“Nate, no kiss?”

“Mom.”  It came out calmly and quietly, but you could hear it in his voice.  He was telling me to go away.

“I love you!” I called out desperately as he walked in the doors.

“OK!” he yelled back, more than a little irritated.

Maybe all the crying wasn’t so bad now that I think about it.

34 Responses to “He’s Letting Me Go.”

  1. christina says:

    hehe I had to chuckle at the “OK” answer to your “I love you” and only because i’m right there with you… only my girl is only THREE and already perfectly fine with letting me go. it’s tough. either way, I swear, it’s tough. this letting go, this growing up business. it’s for the birds. 😉

  2. Ha- my sister was the same way! Except she was that way until she was about 17!!

    • I’m sure we’ll go back and forth a few more times before he settles on his independence. He’s going to be a mama’s boy for a long time, which is OK with me.

  3. I’m not a parent yet, but I can imagine that it’s a double edged sword. You hope and pray that your kids are strong enough and happy enough to take and learn independence, but it is wrenching when that independence is finally realized.

  4. Gah, growing up is so bittersweet. :-(
    You captured the emotions so well with all their nitty-gritty realness, and that is a good thing. We’ll still be vocal about how much we love you. 😉

  5. Joe says:

    That made me smile.

  6. oh man! i know that feeling too well. i have quite a few essays where i realize the separation anxiety is mine.
    but of course, this way is better. wimper wimper.

  7. Stacie says:

    Aw, good for him!

    You’ll still get kisses when his friends aren’t around 😉

  8. Christie says:

    Hearing you loud and clear here!!! Sadie used to beg me to call her from work and now she says, “no calls today, mama.” Gulp. What? It’s all so damn gut wrenching.

  9. Zoe says:

    I remember dropping my boy off and he was screaming holy terror but when I left I would sneak around and look in the window and he was already playing with the other kids before I got to the car.

    • In preschool he always calmed down pretty quickly. Kindergarten really was tough for him. I got reports of him crying quite a bit throughout the day. He’s much better now, thankfully. He’s very sensitive and even after years of preschool he didn’t adjust well. Hoping first grade is an easier change.

  10. 50Peach says:

    Aw, that must have tugged at your heart, HARD. But he’ll always love you for being the mom you are. Which is…an awesome one.

  11. Kristin says:

    We go from being their everything to so uncool overnight. Ugh, I do not look forward to it. You are a good momma.

  12. Linda Roy says:

    Aw, so bittersweet. Reminds me of the point where my oldest went to story time at the library for the first time by himself at 5. He stopped before walking in the door, turned to me and said “Are you going to be okay? Because I can just not go in if you’re not okay.” I assured him I’d be fine and he said “Okay, I’ll just be in there a little while.” 😉 And yeah, I was happy he was going to be okay without me, but I wanted to be in there with him on my lap, listening to those stories together.

    • What a sweetheart he is!! I don’t think mine was worried about me at all, but that’s OK. As hard as it is to let him go, I am relieved that he’s having an easier time.

  13. Panty Parade says:

    Your little man sounds like he’s growing up!

  14. It’s bittersweet, but I am happier when they are happy even if I end up being the one crying…lol!

  15. Oh I totally get this. For us (first grade), I usually get a kiss goodbye in the morning about 50% of the time but what has really changed is the afternoon pickup. He used to see me from across the playground and scream “Mom!” and run over to me and nearly knock me over. Now he grudgingly walks over to me, usually with a frown on his face and something to gripe about, and tries to ignore me as much as possible until we are half of the way home and his friends have all drifted off down their own streets. :(

    • I remember a post you wrote last year about your boy and how much he changed over the course of kindergarten. The way you described him reminded me so much of where Nathan had just gotten to at the end of Pre-K. It’s comforting to see that he is following the same path as most kids at this stage. At least I know what to expect next year :)

  16. Celeste says:

    Oh I remember this well! I’m also surfing it again. When my oldest (now 13) started first grade, he was terrified. I left work early to pick him up and he skipped out of the school. “Hey mom, first grade is GREAT!” he yelled. It was awesome, but hey! I needed to be needed!

    Now my 2 year old is starting one day of day care to get some much needed social interaction and we’re both adjusting. It’s gonna take awhile.

    Anyway, your post made me smile. Loved it.

    • Thank you so much! I think I’m so used to my kid having so much trouble socializing that now that he is doing better it feels so foreign. Don’t get me wrong, I’m so happy he’s happy and I’ll gladly take him ditching me over the crying!

  17. I am currently allowed to hug my son in public, but not for TOO long. And kisses are out of the question unless we can somehow hide them.

    • I think I kind of expected this sort of behavior at some point, but not this early and not after the rough start we had in September. He went back to clingy at camp though, so there’s a little hope for me still.

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