Today was Neil’s first real day at the Montessori. He is 6 days shy of turning 18 months. Yes, 18 MONTHS! We went to spend an hour each day for the last two days in the hope that his transition would be easier on the big day. Alas! Things weren’t any better. He cried the first two days the minute I left the room and did not stop till I came back. This wasn’t the, I am crying just to be fussy cry. These were heart wrenching droplets of distress and pain that arose out of an inability to understand why his mother had left him with complete strangers. I was asked to stay out of the room and watch him from a little window. This was probably the worst experience that we have been through together. He was letting a ‘river run through it’ and I was clenching my fist and holding back my tears to be strong.
Today was harder since I had to leave him there for 3 hours and walk away from the school. I have never left Neil with complete strangers. This was a first for him as it was for me. I sat in the car and I cried. Yes, I admit it. I cried till there were no tears left to cry. I drove off to run errands to keep my mind from thinking about it. I just was not able to think about anything else. When I went back to the school to pick him up, he came running into my arms, past all the children laying on cots, tripping, and picking himself, but constantly keeping his eyes on me. The teacher announced, “your son cried for 3 continuous hours. He was inconsolable!” I am thinking in my head as she is talking what have I done.
It was harder for me to come to terms with it as is, but it got worse when the opinionated mommy next door decided to give me her 2 cents. “If he is so small why do you want to put him here. Do you have a full-time job?” At this point I am bordering on a thin line between being absolutely bitchy and quietly upset. I politely nod and tell her that I have a job.
Yes, I have a full-time job. I take care of a tiny human being. I live my life for him. His needs are my needs. His angst is mine; his pain and joy are mine. I am amazed at how easily we women forget that we have the most important job in the world. But seldom do we stop to think of it that way. We berate ourselves, lose our self-confidence, our individuality and most of all we beat our self image down so much that the real person inside ceases to exist. So I’ve made it my life’s mission to make sure to tell anyone that asks me if I have a job that I do. We create what we want to see. Words help us do that. So the age old saying of “choose your words wisely” has never been more relevant.
I value my individuality. If I can’t build on myself and grow as a human being, then I cease to exist. If I want to raise a happy family, then the doing has to begin with me.
“One of the things my parents taught me, and I’ll always be grateful for the gift, is to not ever let anybody else define me.”
– Wilma Mankiller