Ok, it finally hit me today. These boys are really growing up.
The day starts like any other, the alarm goes off, we wearily roll out of bed (someone farts, hehehehehe), we turn music on in the boys room to get them ‘up and at’em’, they whine and complain that they’re tired, Russ picks out their clothes (he dresses them cooler than I do), Charlie slooooowwwwlllyyy gets himself dressed, and Crew sucks his thumb with eyes half mast as Russ dresses him. They complain about having to brush their teeth, like it’s a HUGE fucking surprise that they have to brush their teeth every morning (they will repeat this cry of annoyance again before bed, like brushing teeth at night, is once again, a HUGE surprise). They make their way downstairs, one of them immediately expresses their disapproval for something on their breakfast plate, I give my regurgitated speech about not being ungrateful, and how other children, who don’t have enough food to eat, go to school with grumbling bellies, and that’s if they’re lucky enough to be able to go to school in the first place. Depending on how intense my speech gets, they may end up with a few tears and feel guilty, then I feel kind of bad, but I stick to my guns because I refuse to have spoiled little shits who don’t appreciate what they have, even if it’s oatmeal instead of a muffin or strawberries when they wanted blackberries (I paid an extra $2.00 each for these to be organic, you’re going to eat this expensive fruit and say thank you or there’s going to be a big problem).
We say goodbye to dad as he heads out the door, and the boys yell in some kind of minion language for dad to have a good day at work. We talk about what the day has in store for all of us and how much fun it’s going to be. This is me keeping a positive attitude with high hopes that they will miraculously not do something to drive me nuts in the next 20 minutes before school! The clock is ticking as I repeat at least 200 times to “please focus and eat your breakfast. Stop touching each other, please finish eating your breakfast. Seriously you guys, you have like five minutes to finish. OK, THAT’S IT, IT’S TIME TO GO! I HOPE YOU’RE NOT HUNGRY AT SCHOOL!” I help put shoes on and, for the millionth time, tell Charlie that later today we are going to practice tying shoe laces (which we will forget to do). We drive to school, I try to keep from spilling my coffee as we rock out to Fitz and the Tantrums or Fire in the Hamptons or Ziggy Marley, to get pumped for the day.
School started a couple weeks ago, Crew in Kindergarten (I keep wanting to spell that with a ‘d’ by the way…drives me nuts), and Charlie in 1st grade. I walked them in every day. They were both so confident and excited about school, and I felt so much joy and pride because of this. There were no tears from any of us. Last week, however, was a different story, Charlie was hesitant to start the ‘drop off’ so we kept walking in, and Crew started treating going to school like brushing teeth. “Whaaaaat? School?! Again?” Like it’s some big f’ing surprise! I could hear the little voice in his head, like, last week was fun but now I wanna go back to hanging at home with mom. What’s this shit, I have to go everyday? I could sense his anxiety about a full day of school. I started worrying this was going to be a really big hurdle that was going to last for weeks. I needed to mentally and emotionally prepare, “God give me strength not to want to kill my children every morning.”
But this morning, despite last weeks trials and tribulations, they both seemed, well, ready. We drove up to the “drop off line” and made funny “Finding Nemo” references about it being called “the drop off”. The school volunteer opened the car door, they had their packs on their backs, gave me a quick “bye mom” as they hopped out, and shut the door. I rolled down the window and yelled “I LOVE YOU!” over and over. Then I watched them in the rearview, side by side, brothers hand in brothers hand, as they walked together up to the school doors. It just happened so quickly. I watched their feathers grow another size, strengthening their wings.
I cried the whole way home. I cried and I smiled. I smiled and I cried. I had one of those movie flashback moments where images from their births to now, flooded my brain, and my heart. When they each came into the world, so different and so special. When Charlie met Crew. Their first baths in the plastic blue tub on the kitchen counter. Sleeping on my chest with our hearts beating together. Eating in their highchairs with food all over their face. Their first words and funny phrases. Learning to walk and looking like drunken sailors. Their little naked bottoms running around in the backyard with the hose. Crew taking a dump on the grass and eating a blueberry out of it (i threw up a little). Charlie talking in third person, “Charlie will do it. Charlie is hungry.” Crew sticking anything that would fit, up his nose. Charlie’s reaction when we would talk to him through the monitor and pretend we were God telling him to get back in his bed. The milestones; potty training, learning to ride a bike, learning to ski and snowboard, learning to swim. The bumps and bruises, the tears and tantrums, the sick kid snuggles. Crew’s discovery that he could howl like a wolf while also being a ninja. Charlie’s face when he met Fitz and the Tantrums!
We’ve all heard it before, but here it is again, the days are long but the years are short, be grateful for the good and the bad, celebrate the big leaps as well as the small steps, remind yourself every day that you’re doing a great fucking job at this parenting gig, put down whatever it is that can wait till later when your kids ask you to play…this will not last, fill your heart with love and joy and patience, a whole lot of patience. While I feel this ache in my heart when I recall the not so distant past, I’m also reminded of how incredibly present I need to be in this, and every, stage of life. I have even resorted to putting set reminders on my phone. One chimes at 7:30am and reminds me to start my day by Choosing Joy. The next chimes at noon and reminds me to Be Present with all that I’m doing and saying and everything going on around me. The third reminder chimes at 4pm, just as I start thinking about (needing) a glass of wine, and it tells me to BREATH, because the day is not done and there is more time to Choose Joy and more time to Be Present, if I just BREATH!
And, let’s be real, I didn’t cry too long because, really, doing the “drop off” means I get to wear my pjs and robe when I drive them to school! Booya!