We had just dropped our kids off for their first day of school. We all had different reasons for our shocked expressions. Sassy Single Mama's preschooler had clung to her at the door screaming and crying as if she was sending him of to be eaten by lions (actually he might have been more excited by that).
My neighbor We Can Do It Mama (she reminds me of that WWI poster with Rosie the Riveter), had put her son on a bus before the sun rose, and walked her two beautiful girls down to our neighborhood school. On the way one begged to be home schooled and the other's steps became as heavy as lead. The pictures We Can Do It Mama took will forever show her 5 year old staring into the camera, her eyes screaming, "Mama, why?????" her face pulled down in sorrow as if she was being shipped overseas to live with some random relative that was going to teach her Victorian etiquette.
My two beasties actually went in excited, quick hug, quick kiss, "Bye Mama". But for me, it was the first time in years that they would be in school without me, their Queenpin, teaching just a few doors away.
The mamas talked for a bit, we shared our getting ready for school stories, we talked about other random stuff and then we went our separate ways to digest what we had just done. There was a part of each of us that was ready to get those kids out of the house, back into school, a schedule, a routine. But then there is that mama bear part, the primal instinct that wants to keep our cubs in our caves forever so we can eat anyone who so much as looks as them funny.
I remember the life I had separate of my parents and it was huge. Each year it grew into something larger. When I was younger I remember the life I had outside of being my parents' child as magical and beautiful and sometimes scary. Especially when I was a teenager. My life was filled with emotion and passion for life (can you say drama queen?), it was full of stories and heartaches. It was filled with me coming into myself. That is something I could only do independent of my folks. They shaped me, they guided me, but in the end, I went out into that life and made it my own.
Seven hours a day, five days a week of making their own lives, completely independent of me that's what my beasties have. It scares the shit out of me, and makes me excited for them. The opportunity to make mistakes and solve problems on their own. The pain of embarrassment. The sweetness and bitterness of 'liking' someone in your class. The thrill of being out from under who your mama thinks you are, and trying on different identities. What will fit for my beasties? Who will they decide they will be?
This week I have loved curling up in bed with the beasties at bedtime and hearing their stories of the day. I love hearing about little beast's constant battle with the boy who may spit in her face at any minute. She tries to deal with him with compassion and a firm hand. I love that my boy tells me about his successes in math, but also that he shared his reward candy with a new candy-less friend who hadn't turned in his homework. There are thousands of moments I don't hear about too, and those moments are shaping the beasts for better or for worse.
I have seen both Sassy Single Mama and We Can Do It Mama this week and their eyes have returned to normal size. They are getting into the groove just like me. Their children are adjusting to being in school and are filled with their own stories of how they face the day. We are telling our mama bear selves that our little ones are okay out of the cave. We are trying to remind ourselves that we have given them the hearts, the claws, the teeth, and the imaginations to build lives of their own. And we have proven to our cubs that mama bear will always be back at the cave with the fire burning, the food cooking, the hugs ready, and an ass kicking for anyone who fucks with our brood.