After 73 days of being home-bound, away from school, assignments, deadlines, classes and more, today,my baby girl returned to a new academic year. It was a little unsettling, to be honest. But, here’s the surprising thing. It was I who felt it, not her.
She waltzed right up to the bus, fell into an animated conversation with all the other kids at the stop, exchanging notes about the holidays, where she’d been, what she’d seen and how she had completely enjoyed her time with her cousins.
As I stood there, watching her step into something akin to maturity, I felt a hollow space in my heart. That space which jealously held her close to my own, not letting the world touch her,now could not but feel deprived. She still was my baby and always will be. There’s no denying that. But what was this strange green-eyed monster doing, nestling in my chest? It didn’t feel right.
She hopped on to the bus and I walked around, trying to figure out where she was seated. Her face lit up when she saw me and motioned me to come over so I could see her clearly. Her smile was so wide, it was so incredible. She excitedly pointed to her best friend, seated next to her and I smiled at them both. With a wave, she settled down and turned to the companions on the bus.
I felt a tightening of the chest, but let it pass. I couldn’t afford to show too much emotion. Sighing, I looked around and smiled at a couple of other parents. Most of them looked relieved. The idea of spending two and a half months at home, entertaining the child, seemed too harrowing, I suppose. At some level, I could relate. But, truth be told, I had enjoyed my relaxed days with her.
There were days when she would wake up past 9.30 a.m, see the clock and roll back into the covers. And I would let her.
There were days when she would take a swim that lasted well over an hour. And I would sit by and watch her.
There were days when she would play on the swings well into the night, after all the kids had gone home. And I would sit there, swatting mosquitoes away, but enjoying the quietude of her joy.
I am going to miss all that. I am going to miss the relaxation and I will have to substitute that for punctuality. I will have to let go of the long swims and make do with a few quick laps. I will have to nudge her off the swing and direct her to finish her homework.
Deep in the recess of my mind, I wonder if it is all worth it. All the running. All the hurry. All the schedules. Am I taking too much away from her?
Then, the pragmatist in me steps in and says, ‘If she never experienced schedules, how can she appreciate freedom from them?’
All these thoughts hurtle through my brain and suddenly, a parent nudges me and points to the bus. I turn anxiously, since the motor on the bus’ engine has revved up.
There she stands, face pressed against the window, looking into my eyes, waving frantically, with a large, happy, pearly-white smile. She does not stop waving until the bus disappears into the distance.
That’s when I let my tears fall. The ones that are a mixture of joy and longing. Without one, the other does not make sense.
This post has been written in response to today’s Writing 101 Prompt
Day One’s prompt is: Today, take twenty minutes to free write. And don’t think about what you’ll write. Just write.
Linking this post to Yeah Write Moonshine Grid #164