The Difference A Year Makes

Last year, at this time, I was a nervous wreck.

I barely slept the night before. I tossed and turned and hugged my little boy tight throughout the night as he slept beside me in bed. I woke up early and dressed myself and my son and slowly carefully drove the 12 minutes it takes to get from our house to our destination.

It was my son’s first day of school.

He was only going to a two-day-a-week preschool program from 9-12, but it was the first time he had ever been away from me. He had never had a babysitter and I rarely even let family watch him. To be honest, he had never even been with my husband alone for more than 4 hours. The school separation was going to be a huge deal, for both of us.

When I dropped my son off in 2011, he screamed and cried and I finally had to leave him crying there while I walked out under the teacher’s advisement that he would stop crying and settle more quickly if I was gone. This, I knew was true. I used to be a teacher, after all. But it didn’t make it any easier for me to be the mommy that had to leave my crying baby nearly in tears myself.

With mixed emotions of apprehension and excitement, I drove away from the school and went to Starbucks. I ordered a Pumpkin Spice Latte, and made myself comfortable in one of the bar seats facing the window. I watched as people scurried to work or shopped at the outdoor mall. I felt pangs of quilt and frivolity for the luxury of being able to people-watch on a Thursday morning when most people were working or in school. I felt unencumbered and oddly uneasy with my new-found alone time.

After trying to enjoy my latte and spending a little too much time in my own head, I decided it was time to leave Starbucks. Except it was only 10:15. And so I drove to my son’s school and sat in the parking lot until noon, anxiously awaiting pick up time. I just did not know what to do without him for that long. I felt like a piece of me was missing.

This year, at this time, I was ready.

As it turns out, I got pretty used to my two mornings off a week last year. I spent most of last year re-discovering my identity outside of motherhood and I felt pretty exhausted after a long summer with very few breaks from constant toddler care.

The night before, my son slept in his bed while I slept in mine, (for the first half of the night anyway).

This year, my son is going into the three-year-old class three days a week from 9-12, but with extra curricular activities of soccer, art and gymnastics after school each day, so I will be picking him up at times ranging from 12:30 to 1:00pm. His school is no longer a new environment, but a trusted and nurturing one.

We were both excited for school and I may have driven a little over the speed limit to get us there.

I walked my son in and dropped him off in his new classroom. Though he was a little hesitant and a bit nervous when we arrived, he became distracted with washing his hands in the new (to him) big boy bathroom in the three-year-old class. I gave him a quick kiss on the cheek, said, “Mommy loves you,” and slipped away with no tears from either of us.

This year, I went straight to Starbucks, ordered my Pumpkin Spice Latte, and drove home to my house where I set up my laptop, lit a candle, and spent some time enjoying the fall weather, listening to music, blogging, and soaking up every second of my blissful alone time.

This year, I may or may not have been a few minutes late to pick him up.

What a difference a year makes.

First Day of School Pics

Noah’s first days of school. Left: 2011, 2 years old, apprehensive. Right: 2012, 3 years old, attitude.

Noah playing with play dough at school Left: 2011 Right: 2012

The Bad Dream

I had to wake my son up this morning for him to go to school. I started with a gentle calling of his name and rubbing his back.

Immediately he started yelling, “The baby!!” “Mommy get the baby!” I didn’t know what to tell him. “What baby, sweetie?”

“The baby! Get him OUT!!!” Then he started hitting me and crying huge tears. I must have had a shocked or horrified look on my face and I didn’t know what to do. I held my arms out to him and tried to hold him. He hit me while I held him and he cried, but I was finally able to start calming him down.

I held my two-year old son in my arms and rocked him back and forth, back and forth while he calmed his tears. After a minute, I asked him, “Did you have a bad dream?”

“Yes,” he whimpered.

“About a baby?”

“Yes,” he whimpered again.

“Was the baby stuck?” He nodded his head.

“Where was he stuck?”

“I don’t know,” he said and erupted in another stream of tears.

“It’s ok, it’s ok. Everything’s ok,” I said as I rocked him back and forth back and forth. “The baby’s ok. It’s ok sweet boy.”

I continued to rock him back and forth and hold my sweet little boy as he recovered from his bad dream.

I was terrified to see him so distressed. I was terrified to have him hit me because he never acts that way. I was terrified for what that dream meant. Does he remember being born? Was he the baby that was stuck and I had to get him out? It scared me to see him so scared about a baby stuck in a dream.

I still have so much angst from his birth and I am terrified that he is somehow also traumatized by the way he came into this world.

I just want to make his world safe and comforting. I hated that he woke up so distraught but I am so glad I was able to hold my big baby boy and rock him back and forth back and forth and take all of his fears away. At least for this morning.