Thursday, November 4, 2010


The day is dreary and gray. The rain falls off and on. I sit on the floor and play with my son. We giggle. We romp. He eats cheerios and I sweep them up. He watches as I rinse dishes, load the washing machine with clothing.

And then, I come across her t-shirt. It is stained with apple juice. The sleeves are covered in crumbs. Regardless, I raise it to my face and smell her scent. Baby lotion, shampoo, and little girl. The giant lump that has been in my throat for an hour rises swiftly. Tears overflow.

The first day of school for my firstborn was yesterday. We actually didn't plan for it. The school called as we were loading up to go shopping. They said Lily could come right then if she wanted. And she did. And so we went.

I walked her in and we met her tacher in the front hallway. She knelt down, hugging my baby girl to her chest, saying how happy she was to have her. She then took her hand, walking her to her class. I watched her small ponytail bob as she skipped along, her face shining with excitement. She was led into the classroom and rushed off to join the other children for circle time.

She never looked back.

She never looked for me.

I peeked at her, sitting criss cross on the floor, hands folded in her lap, and my heart broke with love for her. I felt pride. I felt sadness, deep as the ocean. I felt joy for her.

I also felt left behind. Forgotten. Somebody else would be seeing her smile and hearing her voice. Somebody would be teaching her abcs. Somebody else would watch her hands fold in prayer, listen to her say grace over her snack.

I would be sharing her. I would not be her everything, anymore.

And my mind flashed back in those small seconds. The ultrasound tech saying "It's a girl!" The ultrasound tech saying "She is too small." The doctors joyous face as she laid her on my chest, after saying she would have to go right to the NICU. Her face as she slept on my chest, full of milk and contentment. Her first steps. Her first haircut. Her arms reaching for me over her crib rail, face blotched with tears. Her lip bleeding after a fall. Her first time out. Everyone gathered in my kitchen for her first birthday as she smiled. Watching her at her second birthday party, grief over Joshua mingled with the laughter. Her hair glowing in the St Maarten sun. Her wonder at seeing Cinderella's castle. Watching with her as the ultrasound tech said "There's your brother!". Laying Samuel in her arms and watching as she tenderly kissed him, saying "It's okay, big sister is here." Seeing her be rejected by children on the playground, her shoulders falling. Kissing away her tears. Making her smile again.

And now, watching her walk into a classroom and never look back.

It's funny. Life marches madly on. It tumbles by, time flying. You think the world should stop and notice. You think everyone should see your face and know a piece of your heart is missing. I walked through stores yesterday feeling as if I was missing an arm. I felt like everyone should see it.

These are the things nobody tells you. That motherhood is a series of heartbreaks worse than any a man could possibly give you. That even in your happiness, you still are, at all times, letting go of something. Every step forward is necessary and right, but it involves an unraveling of the heart you can't anticipate.

I took her back to school today. It was harder and easier than I expected. As we turned the corner of the hallway to her classroom, I saw both teachers look up. And then, their eyes lit up. "Hi Lily!!!" was called out.

She let go of my hand quickly, rushing forward.

And then, she turned back. She reached up to me.

I knelt down, pulling her close. She held tight and kissed my cheek.

"Bye Mama. I love you."

I couldn't speak past my tears.

I kissed her hand, still in mine.

And then I let go.