Today I drove Payton to school.
Well, rewind a little bit...Graham is working out of town for the next couple days, so I was on my own this morning. (I know....gasp!! I had to get the kids ready all by myself!) I've truly come to appreciate the help and the routine that we have when daddy is home in the mornings, so when he isn't around, things can get a little hairy at times.
Anyways, I got everyone up, dressed, hair done, fed and out the door just in time to buckle everyone in their seats and zip to the school before the bell would ring. Over the winter Graham was the one dropping Payton off at school 'cause it was just too darn cold for me to get all three kids in the car, then park the car at school, then get everyone out, trek across the field to the doors, take Payton inside, drop her off, go back outside, trek to the car, get the two little girls back in the car and buckled up...only to do to it again a couple hours later when Payton was done. So you catch my drift...the simple "drop off" at school isn't always so simple.
Back to today. We drove up to the school just seconds before the bell was about to ring. I quickly hopped out the car with Payton, the bell rang, and then the stress for a little kindergartener sets in...heaven forbid we are a couple seconds late! I quickly had to evaluate the situation...do I quickly get the other 2 out of the car and drag all 3 inside the school? Do I run Payton in the school by myself and run back to the car as quickly as I can? Or...do I just let Payton go on her own?
I quickly asked Payton as excitedly as I could if she'd like to go all by herself. Yes, I would stand by the car and watch her till she was safe and sound inside the doors...it was just too far for mommy to leave her sisters in the car alone. So I got a quick hug, and off my big girl ran across the field to the "kindergarten doors"...all by herself.
As I watched her run all by herself across the field, a wave of emotions swept over me. Pride that my big girl was brave enough to go all that way, sadness that she doesn't need her mama all the time anymore and the realization that my "big girl" really is still...little. Tears filled my eyes as I watched my tiny little girl run...her backpack so huge it was falling off her shoulders, the big kids all zipping ahead of her in no time at all, her silver shoes sparkling in the morning sun, and the few breaks she had to take from running. It was heartbreaking and endearing all at the same time.
I waited till she made it inside and got back into the car with Gabby and KK. Mommy-guilt rushed over me as I told myself I will never make her go inside by herself again...as frustrating and time consuming as it is, I'll get the other 2 out and take her to classroom. But then...I was happy for her. And I knew that this is one of those times where I have to begin to let go. I have to let her be a "big girl" and do things all on her own...even if I want to be at her side always.
When I picked her up from school she was as happy as could be. She, of course, had probably not given a second thought to the fact that I deserted her earlier that day. In her mind, she is a big girl! And in many ways, yes she is.
But to me...she is still little. She is my baby. And she always will be.