Since we moved, I have been driving Natalie to and from school. I’m now officially a mom-taxi. At times I’m annoyed beyond belief, but I’ve kind of settled into the idea that I’ll be doing this for many more years. Each day I drop her off, and tell her to have a good day and that I’ll be there when she’s done. At 3:40 p.m. I am usually waiting in the car, listening for the ring of the school bell so I can meet her exactly where I dropped her off.
On the first day of school this year, Natalie and I hadn’t worked out our routine so there was some confusion. I wasn’t late to pick her up, but I wasn’t fast enough to get from my car to where she imagined I’d be waiting for her. I saw her round the corner, not see me, and panic. She ran through the parking lot to find her teacher, crying that her mom forgot to pick her up. I was right there, chasing her down, but she didn’t know that. She was so upset. She told me she thought I forgot all about her. So, now we have this ridiculously crazy, yet important unspoken deal that I will ALWAYS be standing in the same spot, waiting patiently for her at the end of her school day. I stand in the rain, the snow, the freezing cold. I am always there waiting. I’m usually by myself because the other parents aren’t stupid, and wait in their cars. Regardless, it has become my favourite moment of the day.
When the bell rings, I watch all the school doors fly open, kids running to their buses. I wait for a few seconds and then there she is. I can just catch a glimpse of her as she comes around to where I’m waiting. It’s that moment that makes my day. The moment when she sees me and smiles instantly. It’s the moment she realizes that I’m there. She counts on me being there, and when she sees me she is instantly happy that I’ve come through for her.
Today I took this picture. It made me happy, and it captures exactly what I want to always remember. The security she feels in knowing each day, I’ll be there for her. I’m always there. Twice this year I’ve had to send her father to pick her up. Each time I am frantic in my explanation of how he has to get out and wait in the exact same spot. He laughs at me, and calls me crazy, but it’s our thing. I can’t let her down.
I sometimes worry about the day when she won’t want me to be there. When she’ll shy away from me in front of her peers. I also worry about her having bad days at school. When someone will have made her cry. When she’ll tell me about a boy who pulled her hair, or a girl who made fun of her. I worry about the day she walks around the corner and isn’t smiling. I worry about all sorts of things when it comes to my kids. I’m neurotic like that.
I watch as friends of mine post old pictures of their own kids, now grown, doing the same things my kids are doing now. I realize that I’m going to miss these little people, as they grow to be big and independent. So, as a result, I’m paying attention now. I want to really appreciate how precious they are today, and take the time to be in the moment with them. Before I know it, they’ll be grown and gone. My days are crazy, my kids drive me wild, but in a flash it will be over. Just like that.
Next year I’ll be picking up two kids, instead of one. It will be different, but good all the same. While I’m excited about them growing up and experiencing all this world has to offer, I’m also a little sad about it. I am aware that it happens no matter what attempts I make in keeping them small. So, I’m going to breathe in deeply now. Enjoy the little people while they are little.
This picture makes my day. This girl is everything good and beautiful in this world. I can’t wait to watch her grow to be the wonderful and amazing woman I know she’ll be. But for now, here is my Nattie-B as I’ll always see her.