Tuesday, January 10, 2012

separation anxiety

Tuesday morning, last week, was the first day.  Jimmy rolled out of bed to set Evie up on the sofa with a blankie, a warm bottle, and Sesame Street, while I holed up in the cold bathroom to brush my teeth and wash my face, squinting into the mirror to see that my eyes were much too tired and raw for contacts.  I scooped Lena out of her warm little nest where she was snuggled up like a baby, knees tucked under belly, and snuggled her onto the sofa with Evie so they could share the blanket.  Lena sighed discontentedly a blinked at the TV, cuddled the blanket around her, and shut her eyes again.

I dressed while Jimmy fixed breakfasts and packed lunches, and then we dressed the girls together.  And Little Miss Eve Adele became ECSTATIC.  That kid had spent that last three months begging us to send her to school.  When Lena got dressed, she would run to their room, grab a handful of whatever clothes she could reach, and run back to us, frantically patting and grabbing at her jammies, asking to be dressed, too.  When Lena brushed her teeth, Evie hurried to brush hers.  Lena put her shoes on, and so did Evie.  And then Evie would stand by the front door, holding Lena's lunchbox, waiting.

The big rolling tears and fat lower lip that inevitably followed when she was left behind each morning broke my heart every day.  She'd spend the rest of the morning asking to go to school, too, pointing at the door with one chubby hand, rubbing circles on her chest with the other to sign "please," and even saying the word over and over:  "peeeehs?  peeeeehs??  peeeeehs??"

Once at the preschool she wouldn't let go of her lunchbox, she was so proud, but she barely looked at me when I said goodbye to her, either.  And she did great!  In fact, when we picked her up early - because they preferred us to get her early on her first day - she was busy being offended that all the other babies were getting to take naps and where exactly was HER mat and HER blankie, hmm?  She was happy to see us, but I think it was more excitement about sharing her day at school than anything else.  There was no napping to be had at all that afternoon; instead she bounced all over the house and tried to hang onto her lunchbox at all times.  So stinking cute, that kid.

On Thursday we let her stay the whole day, and Jimmy went back to work.  Man, did I miss my baby girl.  I missed both of my girls, and I felt like I was floating all day in the empty house, fighting to remember what it is that anchors me through the day, wandering without a purpose.  I cleaned out my inbox, straightened the house, did the laundry.  I edited our December photos, scheduled doctor's appointments, updated my resume.  I read.  Sorted the girls' art bin.  Made dinner.  I missed my girls.

I'm pretty sure that after a month of this, my list of things-to-do will be empty.  The list that has quite honestly plagued me for a good four years, now, will be complete.  The floating feeling is beginning to follow me out of the house, now.  Exhilarating?  Yes.  Also:  terrifying.  Absolutely bloody terrifying.

And then there was Friday.  On Friday, Evie had changed her mind, and wasn't so sure about this school business.  She fussed a little, and cried when I left, but they had her more or less calmed down by the time the door was shutting behind me.  And then there was today.  Today, Evie woke up excited about school, but as soon as I pulled into the parking lot she burst into tears, and that was that.  She was velcro baby for a good twenty minutes, and when I managed to finally sneak out to drop Lena off at her class, Lena decided that she didn't want me to leave, either.  So now that's two crying babies I've left at school today.

Parenting is fun.  Fun in a wear-your-nerves-to-the-point-of-turning-you-into-a-cartoon-version-of-the-frazzled-mom when they're around, and rip-your-heart-out-and-tie-it-to-the-bumper-of-a-cross-country-greyhound-bus when you have to kiss them goodbye - even if only for a couple of hours - kind of way.  Heaven help me. Tell me I can do this?


Jo said...

Boy don't I get it. Beautifully written. There were days when I thought about skipping town with Josiah's crocodile tears as our river to freedom. Work, responsibilities... all the adult things we once wanted become instantly insignificant when you have to pry your crying child off of your leg and limp away... I'm sorry your girls don't always want to let you go but I'm not sorry that they love you so much they just want to be with you. You're an amazing mommy and they just wanted you to be reassured in that. :)

melanie said...

Thank you, Jo. :) Thank you thank you thank you. And I hope you're doing very well yourself, lady. xo