Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The First Day of Rest of Her Life

So we took Teenybop to school this morning, Boyfriend and I. Last night we dutifully bathed and brushed our daughter, then tucked her into bed with love and kisses. And more love. And more kisses. And just a tiny little dose of reassurance ...

Later before we went to bed we set the alarm clock because we didn't dare be late on the first day of school; this morning we "snoozed" until seven.

Now ordinarily this would be no big deal. "Seven," you say, "is not quite so late." But it is! We had to get ready, get Teenybop ready (after waking her), get Dana up because we all hung out so late last night that she just ended up staying all night ... and still had to get to the school before 7:45! Seven forty-five! Man, back in the day, I remember waking up at 7:45 because no school people were jerks enough to drag a bunch of little kids out of bed before the butt-crack of dawn.

We were five minutes late.

As we walked into the school I took some photos of my little big girl in action; one of her walking up the stairs to her school's front lobby, and another of her just before she went in the door with Boyfriend/Daddy. We signed her in and walked her to class, where they were singing some alphabet stuff along with the radio. Well, Teacher 1 and half the class (staggered enrollment days) were singing, while Teacher 2 was at the other end of the room, calling one child at a time to come wash their hands before breakfast.

I took one more photo on the classroom, and then it was time to kiss goodbye. A hundred times. And hugs, too. It would have been fine, and I was okay ... I didn't even cry.

But she did, just a little. Teacher 2 was quick to offer a hug and some encouragement, along with promises of "Mommy-will-be-back-soon". It made me feel better to see her so encouraged, and that they were quick to step in and take the lead with her so that I would feel okay to leave. So I got last kisses and Boyfriend and I headed for home.

And I still didn't cry. But I'll never forget the line he threw out as we walked away, a line which was a clever move meant to distract me from Teenybop's nervous whimpers from the arms of Teacher 2. A line meant to hit me before the leftover PMS hormones could join hands with mommy love and wreck my mascara. He said, "Oh god. What are we going to do with four hours a day?"

Indeed, and the changes in our typical morning happenings couldn't be more clear to us right now. First of all, we're up and motivated - dressed even! - at an altogether ungodly hour. And we're alone together. Really alone together for what might be the very first time ever since the start of our relationship. It's been two years of us as a whole, a threesome, a family. And here we find ourselves a duo. Just the two of us. Without the dawdling that we hated until today, and the constant chatter that drove us bonkers until it was gone.

And he's a dad to the fullest today. More so than ever before, I trust him not to ever abandon her with the same ease that her father did. I kissed her goodbye in the classroom, and to keep it simple and hide my nerves from her, I followed it with the "I-love-you-goodbye-be-good-I'll-see-you-soon" combo. But he picked her up to give her hugs before he left. And then she knew. She knew that it was hard for us, and that we were nervous too. That was the big start of her nerves, the beginning of the whimpers that we heard as we left the class without our daughter. Her Daddy is the one person in the world who can make the sun rise and fall for this child, if he was worried or just a little bit scared ... well then there is plenty cause for nerves, isn't there? It was so cute.

And as we walked away, I know the line was for me, something to help me think instead of cry, but there might have been a little shake to the voice that delivered the line. And as we got home the phone rang. It was Dana, checking on me to see if I was fine, and to see how Teenybop handled things ... but the first thing he said as I headed for the phone was, "I hope that's not the school ..." Cute. We have our problems, but I sure do love this man who has won two hearts so completely in such a short time. He amazes me.

But I digress. The differences in the morning ... the first thing we really noticed was the silence. Not literal silence ... but if you're a parent reading this, you'll know what I mean. You know, we were talking and the radio was on - but she wasn't there. Her carseat was empty, her voice unheard, her feet gone from the back of Boyfriend's seat in the car.

And here now, back at home, there's still ... silence.