Friday, July 28, 2017

Each of My Kids

Each of my kids can ride a bike.

One has a hot pink flower helmet and training wheels, but she can match her brothers' pace. All of my kids can open the refrigerator door, grab a juice box, and poke in the straw without help. All of my kids can write their names and identify numbers and sit still for a whole feature film.

Each of my kids can pretend to steer a pirate ship being tossed on a stormy sea while I sit and focus on my writing. They can take medicine without incident. They can eat lunch unassisted. None of my kids need diapers or strollers or carriers or formula. All of my kids can take care of themselves.

Yesterday I dropped Nora off at her day care for the last time. Her preschool is opening before the school district starts, so she'll be in a different environment next week. Although Nora will miss her day care teacher {whom she aspires to become}, she is okay with moving on. She is eager and looking forward to doing all the big girl stuff that comes with the territory, but this is a hard spot for me.

I have gone to day care drop-off for ten years. It wasn't always this particular house, but both Owen and Nora called it home for years. I have forgotten to bring diapers or shoes. I've stood on the door frame while giving my child a "last kiss" for the twelfth time. I've pried screaming kids from my leg and turned my face quickly to hide tears of my own.

I brought in sweet-smelling, round little babies and now I've left without any.

A lump rose in my throat as I watched Nora reverse course to run back inside and give one last hug goodbye. Reality hit while my daughter turned the last page on our family's plot-thickening chapter.

But Nora starts preschool next week. She's going to learn all of her letters, she's going to practice raising her hand and standing in line and navigating new experiences. She will prepare for the school years that lie ahead and she'll face it without fear. Because, as she tells me daily: "I'm four and I'm brave."

Each of my kids is old enough to be prepared for what's written next. Each of my kids is able to make a little more sense of the world without my influence. All of my kids can make decisions and choose right from wrong and allow me to take a step back from the hovering parts of parenthood.

On sunny summer afternoons, when the oppressive heat is balanced just right by the cool breeze that whips up from the pasture, I can pour myself a glass of tea and find a spot on the front porch. I watch the three babies I once dropped off at day care race around the yard, marking their course and dodging curious cats. I lean back in my chair, and I let them be.

Because, after all, each of my kids can ride a bike.

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