So Natalie’s first day of preschool was Monday.
During the drive I asked Natalie if she was all ready for school.
“Not really,” Natalie answered nonchalantly.
What? Not really? What was the not really business? For a month straight Natalie had been prancing around the house with her backpack on singing a song that she made up about school. (“School, school, it’s fun and I like school!”)
“Not really?” I repeated, my voice raised a few octaves.
Natalie shrugged and didn’t offer anything else.
I gripped the wheel as I drove. What did this mean? Did this mean she’d scream the second I pulled up in front of the school? Was she going to freak out? Was I going to have to pull her aside and go, “Hey, Kate Gosselin, chill out, it’s preschool. You wanted to go here.”
Oh God. I didn’t need this. I was already bummed as it was that Tom wasn’t able to see her off on her first day. And now I had to deal with a potential meltdown. It was too early for a meltdown. I hadn’t even had caffeine yet.
When I pulled into a parking spot I dug through my purse and found my emergency Reeses Peanut Butter Cup. I keep one in there at all times in case I get stressed out. I was definitely stressed. I unwrapped the chocolate and shoved it in my mouth. A woman in a minivan pulled up beside me and did a double take when she spotted me making out with my treat. I watched as she got out of her vehicle dressed impeccably in skinny jeans and a tight blue shirt. She had on makeup and reached back to help her preschooler out (a little girl with a French braid—I don’t even know how to French braid) and while I was making myself feel better (“she’s so skinny because it’s been three years since she’s had her last kid so she’s had lots of time to work out...”) she lifted out a baby from its seat. And that baby couldn’t have been more than six months old.
I swallowed my chocolate. If I didn’t eat so much junk, I could be that skinny. But who could live a life without chocolate?
“You ready?” I asked Natalie, smiling.
“Nope,” Natalie said cheerfully. “Not at all.”
Ugh. I should have packed another Reeses Peanut Butter Cup.
“Well,” I said calmly, speaking as though I were conversing with a mental patient. “We’re going in.”
I thought Natalie would fuss. But she just shrugged and went, “I guess so.”
I could deal with I guess so.
I helped her from her seat and we walked hand in hand into the school. Her class wasn’t open yet so we waited in the hall. I showed Natalie her cubby space and set her backpack in there.
“Do I get it back?” Natalie wondered.
“Of course,” I promised.
When Natalie’s classroom door opened she hesitated for a brief second and then walked in. The teacher recognized her since we had gone to Back to School night and Natalie seemed to relax as she took everything in.
I thought she might cry. Especially with the comment that she made in the car. But she just sat down at a table where bubbles were set up, offered a shy smile to the little boy who settled down beside her, and basically forgot I was even there.
I gave her life and all I got was a bubble popped in my face.
Then I thought, hello, you were hoping she didn’t cry. Why are you acting so indignant that she doesn’t even care that you’re about to leave?
I gave her LIFE dammit!
You don’t want her to cry.
She kept me up for HOURS for the first four months of her life.
You don’t WANT her to cry.
“Well,” I said. “I guess I should go.”
I waited for a reaction from Natalie. A bubble popped against my cheek.
“I guess it’s that time,” I tried again. I mean, what was I expecting? I was glad there were no tears but couldn’t I get a hug, a thanks for raising me for three years, SOMETHING?
“Bye,” I said, deflated.
I walked back out to the car. I didn’t cry, I just had a lump in my throat.
When I returned to my empty house, I gazed around it in silence.
And then it hit me.
I was free.
For two hours.
I WAS FREE FOR TWO HOURS!
“EEEEEE!” I went, punching the air.
Max the Cat, who was sleeping on the couch, leaped in the air from fright and went tearing down the hall with a puffed tail.
“Sorry, Max,” I called out, still dancing around. I mean, yeah, I was still bummed that Natalie didn’t care that I left. But it was okay, didn’t it mean that she was like, independent or something?
I cleaned without having someone breathe down my neck and I even got to read a chapter in my book.
It was fabulous.
I went back to collect Natalie thinking that she’d come over to me like it was no big deal.
But instead, the second she saw me waiting she ran over with her arms stretched out wide.
“Mommy!” she said, and I scooped her up. She gave me a hug and a wet kiss on my cheek.
Ahhh. There was my thank you. She loved me. She really loved me.
I found out that my guest post that I did for Jenn is up over here! Thanks Jenn, for asking me!