As soon as my summer hit the halfway mark and the heat index rose, so did my anxiety levels. With each stifling week, I stressed more and more about leaving Finn to start the new school year. I envisioned myself unable to leave my screaming child at the door, or wiping away tears in front of my students throughout the day.
I visited a daycare facility and cried during the tour of the infant room. After I struggled to find one-on-one care for him, making arrangements with my mother-in-law for one day a week, my sister another, and a friend for each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I still worried. Would the varying routine make things more difficult? Would my attempts to nurse him mid-day cause more stress with the extra coming and going? The guilt was relentless and unavoidable, it seemed. I talked about the situation incessantly, even soliciting help from the virtual world of more experienced mothers.
I tried to plan by spending “practice time” away from him and making sure he visited frequently with those who would care for him. I burned a CD of his favorite songs and took it to my friend’s house along with one of Finn’s much-loved books and muslin blankets. I heeded all of the advice I’d gotten and practiced a “strong, confident goodbye” in my mind. I promised myself I would not cry in front of him.
Then the time came. When on Monday I kissed Finn, waved a strong goodbye, and turned to walk out the door, he was bouncing around with my sister, dancing to Earth, Wind, and Fire’s rendition of “Got to Get You Into My Life.” He was fine. When his Gram watched him later in the week, he practiced walking by holding onto her index finger (finger only!) and played with a new bouncy-ball. He was fine. And when I left him at my friend’s house for the TRUE test, blowing him a kiss and attempting my “confident” wave, Finn was eagerly headed toward the lazy lab mutt for what might have been (oops) an open-mouthed kiss. He was fine.
Finn was fine, absolutely fine.
He — we — will be just fine.