Drop off, pick up, dust myself off
This last image is the one I lead with yesterday. It's the moment that Hawk realizes something is different. Mommy and Daddy are gone. He is on his own.
You might be surprised to know that I didn't cry. Somewhere between filling his cubby with his nap time things and dropping off his lunch then walking to the adjoining playground space I did crack. Just a little.
I sucked in through my teeth, turned my back on Rooster who was beside me, and stared at the bare limbs of a small tree, the bright gray sky a bare palette behind. I swallowed hard and thought, "You can do this," and walked back to my boy whose excited hopping was causing his hand-me-down pants to slip.
I rolled over his waistband and let him in through the gate. We said hi to the teachers we'd met over the previous weeks and the director came to talk to us to reassure us that if Hawk was distressed when we left they would be there for him.
Naturally Hawk was already playing with the tractors he so loves and didn't think anything was amiss. I called him over to give him a hug and a kiss and he did so sweetly. Then Daddy.
Then we left. And, well, you all know the rest.
What you don't know is how barren I felt as I drove away. How lost.
I went to a coffee shop to kill some time before an appointment, came home, went to another appointment, then to another coffee shop; and listed through the hours. Tick tock. Tick tock. Tick fucking tock.
The timing is right for this, divorce or no divorce, but I wasn't banking on having every other aspect of my entire life also different when my baby moved on to the next stage of his development. And yesterday marked the dumping of the last vestige of my old life.
It is irrevocably gone.
All of it.
Every single piece.
In four weeks my entire life has been heaved over my head and thrown.
I couldn't wait to go pick him up at 5. I missed his little face and energy and the way he likes to say, "I do love you, Mommy." It was like I had been lost at sea all day and he was my lighthouse. My 3 foot tall, gassy, funny, tempestuous, darling, inquisitive, demanding, loving little lighthouse.
It's a testament to something -- the universe, my parenting, Hawk, I don't know -- that when I called the school at 2 to check in the director told me that Hawk had only cried those couple of minutes and fell right into step with the other children, even calling him over to play with the tractors. He got his own lunch, picked a place to eat, and fell asleep immediately at nap time.
He felt safe there away from me and without me, I thought. The boy is securely attached. I'm doing my job right.
And when I finally arrived at the playground he was standing feet from the gate looking away. I called to him and he ran into my arms, an enormous grin splitting his face. He was sopping wet from his butt down, his shoes muddy. The cuffs of his shirt were stained and his hands were filthy. He looked amazing.
"You came back!!" he shouted gleefully and squeezed my neck tighter.
"Of course I did, baby, Mama will always come back." I stood up and said, "Let's go get your things. It's time to go."
"Ok!" he replied and he ran off like he actually knew what he was doing. A little boy, not a baby. He took me to a back gate and then a teacher met us and set up his outside cubby. He'd picked a green cover and a silver pen with which to have his name written. I've never seen him looking more proud of himself. He had a cubby! She explained that it would hold outside things. He nodded and sprinted off around the corner. I followed.
Little elfin picnic tables were scattered about under a canopy. "Where did you sit for lunch, baby?"
"Right here!" he announced with a pat to a teeny little bench.
He expertly opened the back door to the house and we gathered his things; his backpack from the (elfin) kitchen table, his blankie from his indoor cubby. He was so fucking happy to be running around in his new place with his mommy. I could just feel it radiating from him.
I'd brought some spare pants for him knowing they'd let the kids play in the mud and rain and I peeled off his sodden ones and wrapped him in a warm blanket in his car seat. I took pictures of his hands. Proof of his glorious first day at school. My heart was at once broken and soaring.
Traffic was bad and we chatted for a while. He had played with Kaylie and Andrew and a boy whose name he couldn't remember, but had worn a red shirt. He had also, "Pwayed and pwayed and pwayed." Then we sat in silence.
"Do you want the radio on?"
"Do you want to talk about your day some more?"
"Do you want to just chill for a while?"
"Yes. And I'm hungry. I want food. And I want to go back and pway some more."
It's true that I am alone in all of this, but I at least have the great pleasure of navigating all of it with him under my wing. My sweet, sweet baby Hawk.