Several years ago a really good friend of mine gave me a book called Let Me Hold You Longer by Karen Kingsbury. This was back when the boy-os were smallish-- say 3 and 1, and it made me cry each time I read it. Trust me, if you haven't had a good cry lately, check it out. No kidding, this one will invoke some quality emotional connecting. The gist of the book is about all of the lasts that we inevitably face as mothers-- the last time they slip their sticky hands into ours, the last time the run and give us a big kiss, the last time... well, you see where this is going, don't you?
Yes, I think it happened to me. I experienced a last time, but the thing with these last times is you don't realize it when it's happening. We remember all of the firsts, dutifully enter them into the baby book, but the lasts are a bit more poignant, a bit more monumental, and they usually pass us by, until one day we look up and our baby who used to call applesauce p-sa, p-sa is driving off to college. Okay, so it's not that bad. Yet. But so far, I think second grade is equally heartwrenching.
Today was the first day of school and a little more important than usual because both boy-os were in new schools. So I was slightly overprotective and hovering with Pacey when I dropped him off at morning care in the elementary school gym today. I knew he wouldn't know anyone, and I had the classic mom nightmares of teasing, loneliness, and tears. I started nagging (which are really just loving reminders) full force: "Do you remember your room number? 14, right? And where are you meeting me after school? At the crosswalk, right? You're not going to start walking home today. Remember?" I noticed I got a little sideways glance and a mumbled, "I know!" but I brushed it off because I was actually starting to annoy myself with that line of questioning. Hesitantly, I started to walk to the door and tried to give him a hug, and it happened. He gave me that half-squeeze, shoulder nudge hug. But I blew it off and chalked it up to his nervousness. Because surely, this sweet thing who would give me hugs when I would come and have lunch with him just last year would never give me a shoulder nudge hug today.
Except it gets worse. When I picked him up around the crosswalk today (okay, I admit-- I couldn't just wait at the crosswalk I had walk down the sidewalk towards the school), I put my arm around him as we walked and he pushed it off (gently, but still). Still! It was then, when we walked in the rain to the car, that it really hit me. It happened. Twice. Sometime last year, at lunch, I got the last elementary school PDA from my oldest boy-o. Somewhere I swear I hear a sad version of Taps sounding at such a loss.
I used to cry at the idea of all of those last times back when I first received my copy of Let Me Hold You Longer. Now as the reality of those last times is beginning to take shape, I cry for what has begun to fade away. I know there are still many lasts still to come, but I think this first last time was one for the baby books.