This morning I dropped my kids off for the fourth day of VBS and a very strange thing happened…I almost cried. I literally choked up while talking to my son’s teacher. Tears threatened to come.
It’s not like I hadn’t done this before. It’s the FOURTH Day! We’ve done this three days already this week! Every other day has been emotion-free (unless you count relief and exhilaration at the triumph of finally getting everyone to their classes with relatively little screaming…and by “relatively little” I mean nothing that would get family services called on me.)
It’s not like this is the first time I’d left my kids somewhere…my son has been in preschool twice a week for the last two years! And my daughter has just finished her third year in public school…7 hours a day, 5 days a week! I should be a pro at this.
But this morning, something in me snapped. It started when my little guy saw a friend from his class and got all excited.
“Mama, that’s my friend! Can we go to my class right now? I want to see my friend!” (Never mind the fact that he did not know the other boy’s name.)
This is the same boy who, just yesterday, asked if I would “stay in the building” the whole time he’s in class. Now he was chomping at the bit to go to class with no mention of me waiting close by for the entire morning.
So off to his class we went. He marched right in like he knew what he was doing. That’s when his teacher said to me, “We love him. He is just so sweet.”
And cue the waterworks.
My voice cracked a little as I thanked her, and I blinked away the tears all the way to the parking lot. I. don’t. know. why. I’m not usually “that mom” (well, except for the first day of kindergarten, but isn’t everyone weepy on the first day of kindergarten?).
I have been talking big lately about my youngest going to school. Wondering out loud if I’m “weird” because I’m not on the verge of depression like my other friends who are sending their youngest off to school. I’m not lamenting that “I won’t know what to do” (I’ve got a list that fills a notebook, people) or that “I might cry all day” (I’ll cry, but I’ll be OK by about 9:30).
Then I go and tear up ON THE FOURTH DAY OF VBS?!?!? That’s just craziness! So, while I was trying to figure out WHAT IN THE WORLD is wrong with me, God gently reminded me of a few things (love when He does that!).
First, let’s just pretend for a moment that hormones have nothing to do with it. (I’m not saying it did. I’m not saying it didn’t. Let just take them out of the equation and look at a “regular” day…like the fourth day of VBS).
1. God has wired us to love passionately and feel deeply. That is why the same woman can weep over the sweet smell of a freshly bathed newborn (we love passionately) and weep tears that are just as real (maybe more so) when that same newborn won’t sleep longer than 30 minutes in five days (we feel the desperation deeply).
I’m confident my husband has never teared up when dropping off either of our children…anywhere. He loves them just as much as I do. But God has wired him to show that love entirely differently. (Although he may or may not have cried when they were born…just sayin’).
2. God has woven into us the gift of nurturing. I can’t speak for every woman, but when I had children something happened inside me. Suddenly I was responsible for this tiny, little being and the full weight of responsibility came down on me. I worried about what they were eating, how much they were sleeping, how they were developing, and anything else that I could think to worry about.
I would venture to guess even women who claim they “are not nurturers” discover a certain level of nurturing when they are tasked with caring for another living being.
That’s why it ripped my heart out today when my son, whom I’ve been secretly praying would begin to show some independence, let go of my hand and marched right into a classroom of his “friends.” That why you’ll see my inner Mama Bear come out if you mess with one of my kids. That’s why, as much as I long for a reprieve from parenting sometimes, I miss them like crazy when they’re gone.
So, for all my fellow Mamas out there, wave your hankies proudly in the air as you march your kids into VBS (or the first day of school in a couple of months). Those tears are nothing to be ashamed of. They are a badge of honor. Wear them proudly, because they show the world that you love your kids passionately and feel deeply the sting of their tiny steps toward independence.
And to the rest of you, I simply say, we are not crazy. We are Mamas; see us cry.