Each weekday morning, I kiss my youngest goodbye before he steps on the bus. I move around to the side he sits on, watch patiently as the bus aide straps him in and then, in a flurry of hands and wind-blown kisses, the bus lurches forward and he’s off to school. I turn my back to the street, gather my coat around me, and walk briskly towards home.
My feet know the path by heart, which is a good thing, because my thoughts are elsewhere. I am busy remembering a day almost two months ago when 20 other mothers kissed their sweet ones goodbye and watched them get on the bus. Maybe they, too, walked to the other side of the bus and, in a flurry of hands and wind-blown kisses, watched the bus lurch forward. Maybe they, too, had smiles planted on their faces as their minds filled with all the things they would accomplish that day.
I do not think about my plans for the day anymore. I walk with my eyes fixed ahead, my lips moving in a silent prayer, a tear banking the edge of an eyelid. I pray fervently for those mothers and fathers who will never wait for the bus again, will never kiss those darling faces goodbye, whose wind-blown kisses will go unreceived. I pray for my child, his own ride a long one, that the travel is safe, and that he will return to me that afternoon, happier than he was when he left.
I think about the days we have had together thus far. I remember the times I have gotten agitated because he wants just one more kiss, or one more drink of water, or to stay up just five more minutes. I remember that he is growing too fast. It was not that long ago when I was celebrating his first birthday. Now, we just celebrated his fifth. He talks in normal big boy sentences. He dresses himself. He has become his own little person. If I am not careful, he will be off to college before I realize it.
I reach my driveway, my front walk. I step up on the porch and through the door. I walk up the stairs to the coffee maker. I pour a fresh cup of coffee and I sit down. That is when it hits me.
The silence. I close my eyes, envelope my senses in the silence, broken only by the aroma of the vanilla caramel creamer I put in my coffee. I smile. I cherish the silence.
Several hours later, I will find myself back in that same spot, a glass of peach tea replacing the coffee, and breathe as one by one my children bust through the door, their laughter and shenanigans breaching the silence. I smile. I cherish the noise.
At bedtime, my youngest begs for a second story. I do not usually oblige, but he will also beg for snuggles. Even when I do not feel like it, I will give him that extra five or 15 minutes and snuggle tight with him. We will laugh about silly things, discuss the monsters on the other side of the wall, and say our prayers. Once the lights are out and I settle back beside him in his bed, his little arm will reach out and stretch across my neck.
Bedtime used to be a struggle for me. I would lie awake for hours, and toss and turn. Now, I go to bed with a smile on my face because I am learning to cherish the small things — the silence of the morning, the chaos of the afternoon, the sweet little voice asking for just one more kiss — and those are what get me through my day. Those little things make me crave more, excited for the next day, anxious to live a long and healthy life.
Those little things inspire me to cherish myself, which is something I really need to work on.