Lately I've been having a recurring trance-vision. You know that state right before you fall asleep where you just have some jumbles of pictures and words, and sometimes they're pretty strange, until you actually fall asleep? I have the vision that I'm standing atop something very tall, very narrow, wind in my hair, gasping, and trying not to be whipped off the edge.
Tomorrow morning, James starts preschool. I have been crying for 3 days.
It's hitting me really hard. I know, again, in my conscious logical mind that it should be the best thing for a lot of reasons. And he may be ready. I don't really think so. But maybe.
I'm not ready.
The thing that's interesting about James is that his personality is basically the same as the moment he was born. He's calm, and quiet, and loves to take in what's going on around him whether he decides to react to it or not. I hope he stays that way his whole life, because being a watcher will bring him good things. (I know from experience. Once a friend described me as the person who, the day after the party, would just know everything that happened there whether she was involved in it or not. That's a good thing.)
When Claire entered preschool, we HAD to send her. And though I was a little sad, I was ready. Let me tell you about the final straw that made me know.
April 2012. James was about 8 months old, Claire was just shy of 3 years. Craig had just come through his second bout of cancer. Our nanny had quit the previous December. We spent several months unsuccessfully looking for someone else, so we'd been trying to fly solo since. Also, somewhere in here, Craig's dad had a heart attack and we spent close to a thousand dollars getting him out to Oregon at a moment's notice. 2012 was not off to a good start.
Craig and I were still working from home. However, my job had a significant uptick in activity because we had landed a large client. I spent a large part of my day trying to nurse a baby in between conference calls (which ultimately led to me giving up breastfeeding James, which I still regret.) Craig's job was as busy as ever. And Claire was still...Claire: hyperactive as ever and couldn't be left alone to play by herself for more than a few minutes at a time.
I remember one day in April I was on a conference call in a spare room which would later become James's bedroom. I was trying to be attentive, but I could tell there was some activity downstairs. I was ultimately distracted by what sounded like banging. Then yelling. When I finally came downstairs, Craig told me that Claire had climbed the floor-to-ceiling cat tree, and was banging on the ceiling with a book. It was time to send her to preschool. We found her a place we both loved, even though it was pricey as heck, and she's been there since.
Whereas, tomorrow morning, I could come downstairs with James, feed him some breakfast and set him up with some cars or blocks in the living room, and go about my day. I can play with him as I have breaks. We could talk and read and play together like we always do. Easy peasy. I don't NEED to send him away. I don't WANT to send him away. But I'm telling myself he needs the interaction with other kids. I'm telling myself he needs to leave here to learn and grow.
I think what I'm most afraid of is that this will ruin my son. He is so perfect the way he is, that I don't want him to change, so I don't want anything to change right now. I don't NEED anything to change right now. I don't want the world to be cruel to him, or for him to learn any bad habits, or for him to ever have any reason to cry. Seriously, he hasn't changed from when he was a baby -- if this kid cries once a month, it's a big deal. I can't bear the thought of him being sad because we've left him with strangers, with people who don't love him. He's so full of love and empathy, and I don't want him to lose even one bit of that.
I feel like I'm pushing him out for reasons that are not my own, and it's tearing me apart. He's my little buddy. He always has been. I'm not ready to let him go. I was perfectly fine not being "socialized" until I went to kindergarten. Maybe I was better off? Maybe he would be too.
Not to mention the money. Dear god, the money. If we had to send both kids full time all year, Craig would have to quit his job because the next 2.5 months it's basically his entire take-home pay. But Claire will be going to kindergarten in the fall, so we'll be back where we are now by September.
I'm hoping that by the end of the week, I will be okay with this. I'm hoping this horrible feeling like someone has punched me in the gut goes away. I hope I stop getting a huge lump in my throat every time I look over at his cars and trucks on the floor.
I hope all these things, but I really don't have a lot of hope.
Wish us luck this week.
The factory is silent. Its assembly line stands motionless. Somewhere off in the darkness, a buzzer sounds. One by one, lights begin to flicker and illuminate on long-unmanned diagnostic panels, giving a sense of enormity and complexity and scale to the machinery. The low hum of power supplies warming up comes next, followed by the higher and louder whine of turbines and electric motors. A whistle sounds, and one by one, employees begin to file in and take their places at the controls. Purposed for a single task, whose time has now come, the factory slowly comes to life...