I didn’t hear Ms. Frizzle declare, “Bus, do your stuff!” So it must not have been The Magic School Bus exploring the world that I drove past on my way home from work today.
Matter of fact, the bus I passed was empty of students, not a bus full of inquiring young minds. No doubt this bus driver was performing a trial run since school hasn’t commenced yet in our district. In just a few days though, that lumbering symbol of back to school will be loaded with boisterous students ready, but maybe not willing, to begin a new school year.
But that big yellow school bus, even if it wasn’t magical, did its stuff! The mere sight of it invoked so many memories for me – not of my school days, but those of my children and their school years.
When my oldest daughter started kindergarten, we lived within walking distance of her elementary school, and I can still recall our walk to the end of our block and up half a block on her first day. I didn’t cry that day because she was so thrilled to be going to school and I was excited for her. She did think buses would be fun to ride though and when we moved to another town before the start of her second grade year, she got her wish to ride a big yellow bus.
Flash forward to her first year of high school. I stood at my kitchen window watching her join the throng of neighborhood high schoolers climbing aboard the bus. She looked so tiny and young to me; it felt like I was sending her off to the wolves, and I cried like a baby.
Middle daughter was so charged to board the school bus when her turn for kindergarten came, I don’t even think she called out “Bye, Mom!” She happily went to school to learn, make new friends, and just “do.” And she never looked back once.
She couldn’t wait to follow in her sister’s footsteps and she practically flew to the bus stop at the end of our cul-de-sac to hop onto that big yellow bus. She gained more than one bus buddy during her kindergarten year as she would occasionally come home to tell me which little boy tried to kiss her on the bus. She was so happily launching her school years and it was such an adventure for her, how could I be sad? Flash forward to leaving her alone in her dorm room at college. I cried like a baby.
When it was time for our youngest to head off to kindergarten, we lived in a different state. I still remember valiantly checking my emotions, which had gathered into a gargantuan lump in my throat, as I watched my youngest child climb those steps onto the school bus. His kindergarten teacher suggested parents follow the bus to school, meet your child in the classroom, observe that your child was settled in, and leave at an appropriate time.
I arrived in his classroom, noticed that he was already busy, and waited. I realize now that I was hesitant to leave my son, not because I feared he wouldn’t adjust, on the contrary, I wasn’t ready to let him go yet! I still relive that moment, which literally happened within five minutes of my arrival in the classroom, when he turned to me and said, “You need to go home now, Mom.” And it’s been that way with him ever since. Flash forward to the day of his high school graduation as I listened to him practice his valedictorian’s speech. I cried like a baby.
As I drove by that big yellow school bus this afternoon, all of these memories cascaded into my mind like a swollen stream of water rushing down the mountain side, crashing into rocks as it flows. The rock of reality abruptly allowed this thought to form in my mind — for the first time in well over 20 years, I am not sending a child back to school.
Of course my rational, logical mind has known that since our youngest graduated from college way back in May. But the emotional and sentimental “mommy” part of me cringes at this twinge of sadness, pouts at the pangs of bittersweet reality as I actually face this fact head on.
This time of year is always hectic for moms of school-aged children and it doesn’t stop when the kids trot off to college. The bills for back-to-school items just get more expensive! In some ways though I miss the busy-ness of shopping for school supplies, laundering clothes, sewing on buttons that somehow are missing from someone’s favorite shirt, helping pack up college necessities. I predict I’m also going to miss traveling to college sports events and recognitions for this organization or that.
Sometimes I just miss being “Mom.” Don’t get me wrong. My children haven’t abandoned me or disowned me as their mother. I’m pretty sure they still love me. And they still call for advice on life — yeah, on laundry and cooking too. It’s just different with your grown up children. They can handle life pretty well on their own and they really don’t need to rely on you like they did when they were young.
So before I go bury my head in a pillow and saturate it with sobs, I thought I’d remind myself of the lighter side of motherhood.
The following video’s been around for a long time, but I watch it occasionally when I need a good guffaw AND to remind myself that some things about being a Mom I am happy to shed. These are some of them.
Watch the video and have a good guffaw with me. Why? Because, because, because I said so, I said so! I’m the Mom, the Mom, the Mom, the Mom! Ta-da!