Homemade cheesebread with marinara sauce.
“Oh no, what if Lewis can’t open his milk carton?”
Those were the first five words on the back-to-school lunch menu and that was the thought that ran through my head sending a fresh waterfall of tears down my face. Yes, I read the school lunch menu and cried. And cried. And cried.
Lewis is my baby. The one I have had to myself for the last four years. The one who sings wonderful made-up songs, regularly makes us all laugh out loud and likes to wear the same waaaay too small orange shirt e.v.e.r.y. day. The one who wasn’t supposed to grow up.
What if he can’t open his milk carton? What if he gets lost in the sea of kids? What if he gets hurt and wants his mommy? What if he gets frustrated and wants to rock to calm himself but can’t because his rocking chair is too big to put in his locker? There was no end to the (often irrational) thoughts that filled my head as I prepared to send my little man off to begin his own life adventures.
But I know deep down the reason I keep crying is not because Lewis might not be able to handle school. It’s because I might not be able handle life without Lewis.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a mom. Not a nurse, not a teacher, not an engineer, not a chef, not an astronaut, but a mom.
And for the past 11 years of my life, being a mom has been my fulltime job. I have done all the things every little girl dreams she will do as a mom. Feed her babies, rock her babies, bathe her babies, stroll down the street with her babies, read books to her babies and check on her babies every single night just to watch that little chest move ever so slightly up and down.
Now I stand on the edge of a new reality for my life, and I can’t get the picture to focus through the blur of these tear-stained eyes. My heart is breaking because as my children grow, I am needed less. Of course, I want them to grow up. I want them to become independent. I want them to tie their own shoes and zip their own coats and open their own milk cartons. But with each new little thing they accomplish on their own, one more thing gets crossed of my list of responsibilities. As my list shrinks, the fist I have tightly clenched around my dream job description is getting painfully pried open finger by finger.
But I know to love is to hurt. And I know love is worth it. Every tear, every breath that gets caught in my throat, every bit of puffiness under my tired eyes. Worth it.
To be honest, I’m scared to step into the next chapter. I don’t know what it’s going to look like, but hanging out in the white space between chapters in not an option, so here I go. If Lewis can master his milk carton, surely I can convince my fingers to turn the page.
I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year, “Give me a light that I might tread safely into the unknown.” And he replied, “Go out into the darkness and put your hand in the hand of God. That shall be better to you than light and safer than a known way.” Minnie Louise Haskins