Today is a hard one for me. It’s a day of “lasts”. I’m about to begin a new journey and—while it excites and reinvigorates me—it also scares the heck out of me.
This morning was particularly rough, and I think my sweet little son could feel it. When I pulled into my usual spot at his day care and walked around the car to get him, there he was: blanket in his lap, toys strewn across the back seat. Like every other day, I unbuckled him and pulled him out of his car seat. Like every other day, I performed mom-aerobics as I juggled him, my purse, and the stuffed giraffe he insisted on taking inside.
But unlike every other day, he reached his arms up and wrapped them around my neck. He squeezed, his little hands gripping onto me, his soft head on my shoulder.
Now, my little boy is a sweet one. But he doesn’t usually hug me while we’re standing in the cold outside his day care.
He didn’t let go until we reached his class room. Then, yet another change to our normal routine occurred.
Typically, I have to pry away whatever toy he brought in with him at the same time his teacher encourages him to take off his jacket and eat waffles. The other kids stare, wondering why their friend is frozen in place by the door. I try to get him to wave goodbye, and sometimes his little fingers wiggle in my direction.
But this morning, as soon as I put him down, he turned and handed me his toy. He reached up for his teacher and let her lead him to his breakfast plate. I waved:
“Bye, baby. I love you.”
He waved back and said, clear as day:
I exchanged a shocked look with his teacher, who immediately exclaimed how proud she was. “I don’t know how you do it every day,” she remarked, referring to my ability to leave him behind.
Some days, I don’t either. Those days when he cries or reaches out for me through the window of his classroom. The ones when he doesn’t want to move out from behind my legs. When his puffy eyes watch me leave.
I don’t know how I do it on those days, either.
But today, I’m convinced my son knew I needed strength. So, he hugged me in the parking lot. And he told me “buh bye” in his sweet toddler voice. I believe he did those things because he knew I’d worry about him, on top of everything else I’m worrying about today. And he wanted to tell me, “Momma, I’m fine.”
At first, I almost missed this truth entirely. I was so caught up in the fact that he didn’t care if I left that I almost didn’t realize this:
While it’s a day of lasts, it’s also a day of firsts.
It may be the last day of my normal routine, but an exciting new one is on the way.
Yesterday may have been my son’s last day to fearfully watch me leave, but today was the first day he said “buh bye” as I went.
Today may be the last day you mourn, and tomorrow may be the first day you see the light again.
Today may be the last night your child asks for a bedtime story, and tomorrow may be the first night they read one to you.
This Christmas Eve may leave you teary-eyed as you tie the bows on the last gifts Santa will bring to your home. But, you may wake Christmas Day to new traditions.
You may struggle, knowing this is the last Christmas before your child goes to college. But, you may discover next Christmas that this was the first one you focused on presence over presents.
Whatever your “lasts” are today, remember to put them in perspective. There are always “firsts” around the corner.