By: Brandy Black
On Day Two, I woke up scarred and bruised inside, sad to have to go back and try again, knowing that when we walked out of that door there would be tears like there were for the 10-minute experiment on the first day. Susan had to work in the morning so I braved our mission solo. I sat with Sophia and watched as, little by little, parents snuck out with no protests from their children. It was down to one other mom and me and I said good-bye to Sophia and she cried and yelled “Mama!” I hugged her again and walked out. I waited 15 minutes and raced in when the tears wouldn’t stop. We played this game a few times, me aching inside each time I left. That night I told Susan that I didn’t think there would ever be a day that she would be OK with being left alone there.
Day Three came. I was beaten down, waiting for Sophia to say “School again?!” but she was chipper, excited to go and see her classmates and teachers. This time I said goodbye almost immediately. I told her I had to go to work. She hugged me, stoic, and I couldn’t believe there were no tears; I pushed the door open and then heard “MAMA”. I kept walking. I ducked down below the window with a table full of parents watching me. They summoned me to sit and commiserate and we did for 3 hours. Sophia stopped crying after 15 minutes. The other moms peeked in for me and she was happy –playing, drawing, and talking. Susan called and said she wanted to come by on her scooter and take me to coffee just down the street.
-Oh no, I can’t.
–Well, I need to be here.
–But she hasn’t been crying for over two hours!
I have never been able to explain to Susan the methods behind my absolute madness. I remember when we were sleep training and the pediatrician finally told us to have her “cry it out”. I could never just sit outside –where I wouldn’t hear the crying –like Susan pleaded. I had to be in the living room, listening to every shriek and blubber. Why? Because I knew that I would know if I needed to go in there; I would just know. This was another mad moment where being outside the classroom made me feel content and safe with her being in there.
-Just come and hang out with me.
-Why? Just sit outside the classroom?
-All the other parents are here.
Susan came, blue helmet in hand. She convinced me to take a ride around the block on her scooter. If you remember, I got her this as an anniversary present a month back. I had yet to ride on the thing; it was bad enough that I got it –I didn’t think she was going to ask me to ride it EVERY SINGLE DAY. I caved in. I felt silly sitting at the child-sized wooden table outside the Orange Stars class. She was right –one block, one ride. I did it for Susan. I threw my leg over her bike and put on the helmet and for a quick moment forgot that I was a mama. I wrapped my arms tight around Susan’s chest and trusted her (to the best of my ability) to take me, anywhere, out of this place. A block out, I instructed her to take me BACK to that place! She ignored me like she does and I squeezed tighter and yelled more. I gave her all that I could, baby steps. When we got back to the school parking lot she begged me to ride once around the block on my own. I conceded and drove with the sun in my eyes and wind in my hair and it felt good to let go, let it all go for one more minute. I am so much more than a mom. I have so much more to offer. I finally understand Susan’s relationship with her bike; it represents all the other parts that we so easily shove aside, ignore, let go of. But to be the mama that I want to be, I must always hold on to all my parts –good, bad and otherwise.
Sophia loves preschool and now, so do I.