9.08.2014

MOTHERHOOD RIGHT NOW / HUCK THE SCHOOLKID



Today, my baby started pre school.



Yesterday afternoon found us on a quixotic hunt for a bag of roasting marshmallows. The sun was hot, we'd been out for a while (seriously Brooklyn with the sudden marshmallow shortage!) (have you read this?), and Huck had started the "I'm too tired to go on!" routine with the tormented voice and the dragging feet and the panicked, whiny whimpers and the "I can't run! Carry me, please!" There's a whole system in place here, and the two of us know it intimately. First comes the whining, then the part where he stands right in front of me so I can't take another step without tripping over him, and then comes the bartering (if you walk all the way home, we can have dessert after dinner!), and then finally I give up, first saying At least ask nicely, and then once he has and I'm carrying him and he's satisfied with life, he'll start in on all of these wonderfully inane existential questions.

"Mom, what does "smaller" mean?"

When Brandon's around I usually turn Huck over to him. Gladly. I figure, it's gotta be hard to be a Brandon and be off at work all the time, missing all these funny little Huck quirks and routines and anecdotes, but more than that, Mom done like her breaks, son. But this time, watching Dad tackle the receiving end of Huck's never-ending requests and queries and general updates on life in minute-to-minute detail, was suddenly more bitter than sweet. Here somebody else was having my experiences, experiences that aren't even mine anymore--at least, not the way they used to be. Those days when it was just us two, Huck and Mom, Partners In Crime--asking and answering the impossible questions, planning our days out on the one-for-one system (I go with you to the playground, you come with me to get concealer), sharing a plain bagel with cream cheese after the playground and capping it off with a frozen yogurt at Culture--those days are ending. We'll only get two a week from now on. Plus holidays and summers. And--two a week!? Is that not unfair! I've started to understand that whole Blubbering Mom on Her Kid's First Day nonsense, after months of swearing I wasn't going to get emotional about it.

Maybe it's not about the missing them, so much as it's about the significance of letting them go.

I do feel as though I've handed over my controlling interest in the Raising Of Huck Corporation, LLC. I've sold some of my shares to the teachers and friends and other outside influences that will become more and more a part of his life now that I'm no longer the primary shareholder. On the one hand, I'm so happy for him. And me! Free time! Also, I'm thrilled to be able share him. He is a blessing, and who am I to deprive people of such blessings? Like all kinds of joy, Huck is a thing best shared. But also, Hey. That's mine. 

"Come here, let me snuzzle you," I said to Huck last night as the sun was setting and the ache in my throat had gotten too big to ignore. 

"Why?" Huck asked, screwing his yellow mechanical crayon up and then down, screwing up his mouth to one side, and winking one eye as he concentrated on getting just the right amount of crayon set for the page in his coloring book.

"Because," I said. "I am feeling nostalgic."

I walked into his bedroom and scooped him up into my lap. He smushed his cheek into mine, still screwing that yellow crayon up and down, bouncing his legs against my knees, and then before I could help it my vision got blurry and my muscles forced my mouth into this ugly, involuntarily little frown.

"I just want you to know," I mumbled into Huck's cheek, still so soft and squishy with that scent of spun sugar I've always loved, "that the time we've spent together, you and me, just us two, has been the best time in my life. I love you so, so much, and I am so excited for you. You are such a big boy, and I am so proud to be your mama."

(Oh crap, here it comes.)

"I love you too, Mom," he said, "but Mom? This place is for kid stuff. Can you go do grown up things with Dad on the couch?"

"Okay, baby," I said as I stood up, straightening my shirt, and wiping off a stray tear. Brandon eyed me with amusement from the couch as I walked over and sat cross-legged on the floor in front of him and pouted. I'd been swearing for days that I wouldn't cry, but what are you gonna do? It's the kind of sadness that has no solution. You can't fix the melancholy of nostalgia, not even if you wanted to. And I don't want to. I'd never wish this away, not for all the rewind buttons on the planet. Even if I found Huck's rewind button, man...  I'd leave that sucker un-pushed. This is so wonderful, and the pain is an important part of it.

We all walked Huck to school this morning, the Holbrook Trio, Brandon snapping photos all the way there like a proper Dadarazzi. I'm so grateful to have these photos. Even if I sort of suspect that apart from the family memories, what Brandon was really after was a good shot of me mid-cry. ;)

A few of our favorites:


Aw crap, he got one.


Saying goodbye and see you at pick up...


He was a little worried on the walk over, telling me he felt lonesome for me and that he wasn't going to want me to leave, but of course the minute he got there it was all school, all big boy, all I got this, Mom.

I know you do, turkey.


So do I. I think. 

And then Brandon just kept on snapping.


Ooooookay okay okay. Geez. :)

Courage, all you moms. We got this.

52 comments :

  1. This is so tender. I don't even have kids and I may have teared up a bit ;)

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  2. Oh my. The one of you, watching from the classroom window? I lost it, man. LOST. IT.

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  3. Oh - well this was just too much. So sweet.

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  4. Well this just done did me in. I think this might be one of my favorite posts yet. Thanks for sharing.

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  5. Such a sweet post, and a great glimpse into motherhood.

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  6. Man this hit me hard and my baby is not even 2! Good luck Huck and Natalie!

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  7. seriously all teary as I remember those days. Just sent my baby off to high school and her sister away to college. September is my January with all the new beginnings, emotion, tears, joys and goals for success. These babes will do us in some days whether they be 5 or 20!

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  8. Oh this was exactly me today. Minus the walk but adding a van ride. I must say you are quite the classy crier. I had to put the window up before my daughter's teacher saw the ugly cries. I couldn't wait until she got home. Hope you survived day one just fine. Everyone keeps telling me it gets easier.

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  9. Favorite post of yours, ever. I don't even have a baby of my own yet and I am tearing up right on with you. Such a wonderful peek into motherhood - thank you for sharing.

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  10. Gah! I feel your angst! I've been there... I'm STILL there. How can a moment be so happy and yet so heart-wrenching? I didn't realize I was holding my breath until I'd scrolled past the last photo and read your last line.

    You got this.

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  11. The first photo of him is priceless.

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  12. This was beautiful, Natalie. :)

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  13. I sent my oldest off to college a few weeks ago. I've never been a mommy crier, really. But oh my, that did me in. I cried pretty much non-stop from high school graduation at the end of May to helping her move in to her new apartment at the end of August. And when she walked me to my car and gave me a big hug...and then walked back into her apartment while I drove away....Oh, oh, oh! I ugly cried the whole 90 mins home. But yes, as you said in your final line..."Courage, all you moms. We got this." Thanks for that.

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  14. 1. Cutest first day of school outfit EVER

    2. Thank you for sharing this beautiful post with us.

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  15. Oh, Natalie! What a beautiful essay. I feel like you perfectly captured that part of motherhood. My first is just turning a year old this month, so I don't fully understand yet, but I totally could relate to all of your feelings as I was reading this! Ahhhhh. Being a mama is the craziest thing. Thanks for this.

    -Michelle

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  16. This was so sweet. Oh my goodness, so dang sweet. And I really love your narration skills. Of you two in his spot with his kid stuff and that crayon. I can smell that little yellow Crayola crayon. Nice work :) And you did an awesome job sending him off, strong momma. I'm looking forward to these moments with my kiddos, whenever that may be.

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  17. Wow, I don't have to do this full time for a little while yet but you really know how to hit a girl straight in the heart strings...big hugs mumma xx

    Katie @ http://whatyoudoingkatie.blogspot.co.uk

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  18. oh you cute tiny person.

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  19. I am reading this on what is my last day as a nanny for a little boy I've been with since he was 5 months old. Its a bit reversed, I'm not his mom, and I'm not sending him off to school, but I'm no longer going to see him every day and wipe his stupid boogers and have great conversations about all the different kinds of trucks in the world. I was crying reading your words because its probably the best description I've ever read about what it must feel like for a mom to take her child to school and "let go". I don't have that experience but I did have the huge ache in my throat as I drove away today and I realized that I wouldn't be there for his next life stage, or the one after that. I swaddled and fed this baby his bottles, watched him learn to walk, got excited over his first words, and evolved into his friend, the person he asks to be next to him sliding down the slide. And I'm not guaranteed that I'll ever get that kind of time with him again. Its a sad feeling. I'm not his mama, so I don't know that kind of bond, but I do know that I cried most of the day, and lots of days leading up to this one because I love him. And love is like that.

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  20. this is so poignant and precious it hurts. the pictures of you kissing him goodbye and watching from the window just crush me! thanks for sharing these raw moments. my oldest just started kindergarten (we did preK at home) and that first day was so hard (for me - she loves and adores every stinkin little thing about school!) courage, mama! xoxo

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  21. Awee Natalie I teared up reading this post. I'm in the middle of that phase you described where my daily life is just my 2 year old son Jace and I, partner in crimes, bartering if "I pop into rite aid for a donut bun shaper then you can play at the park" kinda thing. Yet I can already feel the stage you are in with Huck going to school creeping up on me. I love though how you said "pain is an important part of it." You are always so spot on with these mama/son things :)

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  22. So sweet! I just had a LO and I am already not looking forward to this day! They grow too fast for us parents.

    http://therosetteportrait.wordpress.com

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  23. aw, natalie, i teared up too, and i want like, none of the kids, ever. i normally can't relate to the motherhood gig, but this one got me. brava to every mamas!

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  24. Oh my, this brings back memories. Believe me, it will get much better(surprisingly pretty quickly )- that first day is a whooper emotionally though. You are a normal mom to have these feelings - don't get hung up on it. Your little guy is so sweet.

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  25. I loved reading this... so cute.
    Such an important step!
    Get through it :)
    Hope he enjoyed his first day!

    Valentina

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  26. Another thought - how refreshing & hopeful to see a blogger actually send their child to a REAL SCHOOL! So many home school - sorry, I'm not a fan. Or, certain big popular bloggers don't really seem to have given schooling any thought at all - now her kids are teenagers with no education - and she runs mothermag???? Sorry, just had to say it. You are on the right track - keep going that way!

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  27. My heart just about leaped out of my chest when I saw your Instagram this morning :) I've been reading your blog long enough to feel like this was a big deal for *me* to see Huck off to school! Hehehe. You two are the cutest, coolest duo. You have raised such an awesome little guy. Be proud, mama! Can't wait to see what this next chapter has in store for you guys.

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  28. Oh gosh, all those pictures of Huck! He's gotten so big!!!!!
    xx

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  29. Lump in my throat, tears in my eyes. Lovely words and photos x

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  30. oh this post! so emotional for me and my daughter just turned three! isn't it so hard to let them go? only for a few hours. gosh I am feeling some feelings. you're awesome. and you're right, you got this!

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  31. Ahhh. I don't know how I'll do it... and my Cohen is only 4 months old! I'm feeling like I won't be able to go back to work and send him to daycare.

    Thanks for your words!

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  32. sweet. And also, how excited was huck looking in those photos. this growing kids stuff sometimes breaks your heart as they get bigger way too quick, but those looks of excitement, who would want to miss out on those

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  33. Loved this! I can't focus on the parts that made me all teary-eyed in my coffee so, can I just say: you've got great gams! Take it from a gal who can't wear shorts without feeling little a total goober. =)

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  34. Gah! I couldn't get through this without crying! The little conversations we mamas have into their soft cheeks and necks, all the time hiding tears and a huge lump in our throat. I feel ya, girl. I just sent my 4 MONTH-old off to full-day daycare two weeks ago. I do believe it's harder for us mamas than the babes, but that's a good thing. We do got this!

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  35. Cue the tears. This motherhood stuff is HARD and you hit the nail on the head with this post. Today marks one year since I went back to work and sent my daughter to daycare (at one year old.) I still struggle with missing her all day everyday. And I think it's because I'm on the sidelines for so much of her life now. I know I'm important, but with only two days together a week, I'm not *in* the game like I was when it was full on just her and me. After reading your post, I guess there's just never an easy (easier?) time to pass over control, is there...

    Best of luck to Huck in his new adventure - these crazy kids do amazing things out there in the world! And best of luck to you, Mama, in letting him go (just a bit).

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  36. Oh my goodness, you're the only blogger that has ever made me cry! Thank you for the words, you have a way of putting things in such a way that strike a chord in my heart. I have a two year old that I have to take to daycare and I hate missing out on so much with her, I can only imagine when she starts going to preschool. Huck is seriously the sweetest, he has the charisma, even just seeing him through pictures, that can impact a person's life. You've got one special kid, thank you for sharing him with us.

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  37. You are beautiful.

    And good for you for knowing that the pain is an important part of all of it. Best wishes!

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  38. oh my gaaaaahhhhhh you made me tear up. and lately i've totally understood how mom can get so sad on the first day. it makes total sense to me now after watching my lil 15mo grow up so quick. her brother is due next week and my heart is breaking for her! ahhh!!! time! where does it go? srsly tho.

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  39. Sitting here in the NICU reading this as I watch my almost 2-month-old (who was born at 1 lb. 3 oz. in July) sleep, and already nostalgic for her growing up.

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  40. Oh man, not looking forward to that! Thank God, I have 4 years to go. You're brave, mom! I'm feeling sentimental just reading this. Gaah!

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  41. You have TOTALLY got this guys. All the best to you both for this gigantic, exciting, terrifying step! You are such a good mama by Huck and you should be completely proud of yourself. Hooray! x

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  42. Aaaaaaaaaand there go the waterworks. Bawling over here. But way to go Natalie. Major right of passage for every mama and every child. It's a new chapter and it will be soooo wonderful in a different kind of way. Sending warm thoughts as your family makes this transition :)

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  43. "Mom, what does smaller mean?" -- addooooored this post. Best of luck with the rest of his schooling xoxo

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  44. Lump in throat. You guys are damn adorable.

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  45. tears in the eyes. phew. you got this, you always do:)

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  46. I just experienced this same milestone and it was very special. Huck is the cutest sweetheart. I appreciate your blog a lot.

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  47. This made me cry big crocodile tears, remembering all those feelings from the first day of Kindergarten a few years ago. It does get a little easier though, I promise. xo

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