It’s been nearly six months now. Six months since a big yellow bus pulled up to our driveway and all three of my kids climbed aboard. Every day since, it’s been the same–Charlie climbs aboard first, Chanelle presses her hand lightly on Meadow’s back to guide her on second, and Chanelle climbs the three over-sized steps last. Chanelle glances out the window and waves good-bye,Charlie disappears to the other side of the bus, and on most days, Meadow stares at me with sad eyes with her tiny hand waving good-bye until she can no longer see me. I wave back and blow her a kiss and swallow back my tears in that final moment before the bus disappears.
She’s still adjusting to the change.
As the bus drives up the hill, I make my way back into the house with two dogs at my side. I close the door behind me and when I hear the bus make it’s way back down the hill I breathe deep with a silent prayer, Watch over them. . . keep them safe. . .
I make my way back out the door and climb into the car. We need milk. And bread. Why do we always need milk and bread? I turn on the car and there are no little voices from the back asking me what else is on the radio. I glance in the rear view mirror and there are no little eyes glancing back at me. I climb out of the car and I notice it–the speed that I leave the car. There is no little one to help out of the car. There is no hand grasping my own. It is just me.
I’m still adjusting to the change.
I walk into the store and I notice another mother. She has a baby in the front of her cart, another in the back, and another walking beside her. They tell of her of their hunger. They want that, and this, and those. It takes all my self control not to grab that Mom and tell her–it goes so fast, drink it in. I don’t do it, though, because I understand she might want to slap me or hand over one or three of her children.
It’s been six months of spending my days solo and I still rush through store aisles. I race through, grabbing only what I need–milk, bread–and forgetting most of what I should get–anything else, because the lightness of my cart still stings. Later, I send Chad a text–can you make a grocery run? When he asks what we need I respond. . . everything–except milk and bread, I got those.
I barely remember the days before motherhood. It seems like a reality so far away, it’s almost a dream–or a movie I saw long ago. I do remember a day, when my belly was just barely swollen with Charlie, when I was standing in line at a grocery store and I noticed a mother with a small child who had just finished paying for her groceries. As I stood in line, waiting my turn, I watched that young mom pull her little ones arms through her coat jacket. After she finished with the coat, I watched her put a hat on the child’s head and gloves on tiny hands before wrapping a the child in a soft blanket and heading out the door. I remember clearly, the rush of fear that washed over me in that moment as I realized how much life had to slow down when a baby entered the picture.
The thought terrified me. How would I ever do that? I wasn’t sure I could.
But I did. It didn’t take long and it happened. I was that Mom who stood at the front of the store and placed hats and gloves on babies. I stood in the middle of aisles and tied shoes and handed toys to keep little ones calm as I raced through filling my cart with things we needed and didn’t need–because a little one batted his or her eyes and uttered a please and my resistance was nil.
It’s hard to understand how motherhood takes root, almost without notice. What at first feels over-whelming and foreign becomes natural and second nature (albeit, always over-whelming). New parts of you are discovered and developed. What was important yesterday, feels less important today. Somehow, life becomes wrapped up in little lives–their eating and sleeping, their breathing and living. In what feels like a moment, everything changes–your life becomes their lives. And, for a time, other parts are tucked away–set aside for another time.
I am adjusting. Finding my way into this new space. Where the days are mine. Where a little voice doesn’t call for me to play pretend (Thank God for that) or to read a story, or do a craft. Days are spent, instead,
learning relearning who I once was. Or, better, who I’m becoming. I meet friends for coffee and don’t worry about darting my eye between my friend and my little one. I work during the day allowing for a bedtime before the a.m. hours. There is space in my head to remember that there is a big, wide world out there–and I’m opening up to it–ever so slowly.
Four o’clock rolls around and I look toward the floor of my office and say to the pups–the kids will be home soon. I watch them jump toward the window and we see it together–the big yellow bus is headed our way. The three of us get up to greet them at the door and we are met with a flurry of voices, and stories, and papers. I look through papers and see words written by Meadow:
I love my mom and dad.
My mom wix for cams. (works for cameras.)
I see my mom!
I am palm with my mom. (playing with my mom.)
My mom loves me.
I smile in amazement at the way the world is opening up to her–ever so slowly.
She is adjusting.
I am adjusting.
It is different and new and beautiful and it’s own way.
Those years were good. . . and so are these. . .