So, I sit here after dropping my son off for his very first day of school. Which is also his very first day of anything outside of us and my warm little cave. Yes, he’s in speech therapy, but that’s a once a week venture that lasts only thirty minutes and it took a few goes for that to go smoothly. Since it is for such a short time, when he had those flip outs in the beginning we were brought back, and it got better before it could get worse. That was just wading into the waters. Dipping our toes. Laughing richly as we tried something new.
Today, I threw him into the deep end.
I’m not the first parent to take my kid to school, and I’m not the first parent of an autistic child to climb outside of their comfort zone, but something inside of me is just screaming, “THIS IS WRONG. GO GET HIM. IT’S TOO SOON!” It’s so difficult not to feel this way, despite common sense telling you that this has always been the place we were headed to. Come on, you remember being pregnant and imagining taking them to their first day of school and you knew that you’d tear up and everyone joked that you’d have to be physically removed from the premises.
PAHAHAHA. Silly mommies.
I never thought I’d be that mom. I’m cool, calm and collected and was ready to watch my baby grow. I wasn’t the over-sentimental mom that cried over her baby changing or growing out of his newborn onesies or finally crawling. I was excited for the changes and the new things he’d do. It meant we were surviving each other. Then life happens, the autism card gets thrown, and you become the helicopter mom out of necessity, and then all of a sudden you just have to let go.
Like literally let go.
We got there early, so his teacher wasn’t in the pick up area yet, and he wouldn’t leave the car with a stranger. Because we hit that hitch in our smooth “Get him out of the car” hurdle, it all fell apart. So I walked him into his classroom and then I talked and tried to leave, not once, but twice, and he called out to me, but I had to let go of his hand and there weren’t sunglasses big enough to hide the mess I was becoming.
So, no, it isn’t just about, “Oh, my baby is growing up.” Although there is that. A feeling that something has ended and we’re starting something new, something that will continue for years until it too ends. But for me, the big thing is not knowing how to just leave him. This boy that’s just learning to be verbal and whom I’ve always been a bridge to every one and everything else. I’m so excited for him to grow, adapt, leap outside of this comfort zone I’ve built him and learn the things I couldn’t teach him here by ourselves hidden away. And I’m excited to learn to let go and trust the world around us. But that’s tough when for so long that world didn’t get him.
But I did what I could. I kept the cave warm and he crossed the bridge.
I let go of his hand and walked out of the classroom without turning back.
I’m trusting you, world. Be good to him.