Breaking Up is Hard To Do

by Jennifer on April 4, 2016

Friday morning radio chatter filled the car as we turned the corner toward my fourth grader’s elementary school. Noticing a gaggle of mothers accompanying their children into the building, I was grateful to be able to hide my bare-skinned face behind my sunglasses and my pajama-clad body safely inside the car.

“Hey K, what are all these people doing here?”

There was a slight pause as he looked up from the book he was reading and noticed the unusual crowd. “Oh…it’s Muffins with Mom today.” His voice trailed off as he returned to his book.

“It’s Muffins with Mom today? You know I’m your mom, right? Were you going to tell me about it?”

I felt a little squeeze in my chest as I braked to let a woman and her young son cross in front of me. He was holding her hand and I could see him lift his head to her and smile.

“I forgot. I thought it was next week.” I searched for the sound of disappointment in his voice but found none.

I think I had enough disappointment for both of us…for the entire car, really. I had so much, in fact, that it came out of my eyes and spilled down my cheeks, leaving trails that even my oversized sunglasses could not hide.

I calculated in my head the number of times I had been to Muffins with Mom. I went through each year in my mind, beginning with Kindergarten, when his excitement matched mine. It was the one day out of the year when I got to come to his school and sit in his classroom with him, meet his friends, look around and get a glimpse of what his time apart from me looked like each day. The preparation the kids undertook for this day, usually involving a picture or a poem or just a moment where they would say what it is that they love about their mom was something I treasured. It was always a moment that reminded me how thankful I was that I gave up a career and could come to school on that day without having to worry about the job I was going to be late for or the client who would be filling my voicemail and email.

It was just one day out of the year. It was just thirty minutes, but it was important to me.

Being a mom is not a job one undertakes for the benefits. Gratitude is not expected, certainly, and in fact is a word that makes me chuckle when used at all within the context of parenting.

But there are those moments…the hugs and snuggles on the couch during morning cartoons, the spontaneous “I love you,” the feeling of a little hand reaching for yours completely of its own free will, that remind you why you do it all in the first place.

Because of the love.

But they start to grow up, and before you realize it, you are sitting in the car in your pajamas with your three kids, one of whom is a fourth grader whose life is moving on, with a strange watery liquid on your face and a broken heart.

Because you know it is ending.

“I’m sorry I forgot,” he mumbled as he collected his backpack and violin and climbed over his brother to get out of the car.

“It’s okay, Sweetie. Have a good day and I love you.”

“Love you too.”

And I watched him walk into the building among the crowd of children and their mothers, a string of my memories trailing behind him.

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Cynthia Forbes April 4, 2016 at 9:24 pm

I remember those times when I felt like I wasn’t HIS world anymore because he was STILL mine! But now I can look back and say I did a good job. I raised my boy to grow up and separate from me and he was doing just that. So Congrats Jennifer! You raised a well adapted boy.

Bethany April 15, 2016 at 4:06 pm

Hi Jennifer, I found your blog through a FB post from Kari. And I’m so glad. This is such a sweet reflection about a small but sad moment. I love your observation about motherhood: it isn’t the kind of thing we do for the benefits (and definitely not for gratitude!) but for love.

Jennifer May 10, 2016 at 12:21 am

Yes, I think the love is the only thing that gets us through the growing up, isn’t it? Thanks for reading, Bethany!

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