I crossed the milestone yesterday with unexpected melancholy... the first day of having two kids in school. Really, I thought I'd be excited, ready to shake off the first thick layer of Stay-At-Home Motherhood. The emotions caught me off guard.
I was excited for my new preschooler, all decked out in his big brother's "cool" backpack and the shiny blue heart keychain he bought himself with some of his birthday money over the summer, but after dropping him off with a flourish and easy success I felt like the wind was knocked out of me in that startling way that keeps you from taking a deep breath, waiting for air. I got in my car to leave, and I cried.
I think part of it is because it was just so easy, the pure relief of making it through early childhood with a typical child. He's completely ready and capable and happy for whatever's next.
Motherhood during these younger years was so different for me the first time around. Having a child with atypical needs felt like learning how to be an air traffic controller while on the job. Terrifying. Live!...without a net. There were so many instances where I felt completely in over my head (most of the time, really) and where it seemed that I had failed, moments big and tiny that are now casualties of crashing and burning like his 4th birthday party, and one specific awful morning that haunts me like a dark tragedy. I just didn't know any better. I never knew what it felt like to have a "regular" kid, who on the first day of preschool I could walk to the door, kiss goodbye, and that would be that.
That is exactly what happened, and I was unprepared.
I think that now I'm finally standing on the other side of early motherhood, across a bridge spanning over ten years, I'm just reflecting on what was easily one of the most challenging decades of my life. It's the weight of it all surfacing and fluttering away in the wind - all the joy and all the heartache of my life as a mom of these two incredible boys - shifting and changing, feeling lighter as they grow their wings and fly more and more on their own and we soar into this next part of the journey, together. No diaper bags or pack-n-plays or carriers needed anymore, just what's packed messily into our own hearts.
The perspective is so different and I have to get used to it, I guess. It's hard to believe that I'm really here.
We made it this far.