It’s quiet in the car. The radio iwriting prompt: start with a clichés off as it often is so I can hear what the kids are saying from the back seat.

There is no one in the backseat.

No buckling. No “When we home can we . . . ?” No “Is Melissa open? Can I get a donut?”

I pull my own seatbelt across me. Click.

It’s quiet. Still.

It’s not so much that I want to cry as that I am aware of the space around me. This space and quiet I’ve yearned for.

I waited so long. It went so fast.

My baby girl has been ready for this day—first day of preschool—for two years. She knows the routine: hang up backpack, wash hands and sing ABC, sign in. Today, what’s different is she gets to stay.

I squat next to her at the busy play dough table. Watch her, check out the other kids, the other moms. Ask what she’s making. I glance at the clock. It’s almost meeting time.

“Can I have a hug? I’m going to go now.”

It takes a minute for her to pull herself away from the play dough. She looks at me and lunges into one of her superhugs—arms and legs entwined around me. She lets go with one arm, presses her cheek to mine—one arm hug.

She doesn’t like hugs herself, but she has a whole repertoire to give, each tight, each heartfelt, each connected. Her hugs lift me and fill me like Henry’s smile used to.

I remember when my big girl started preschool, how I waited impatiently for the end of her day to find out how it went. I worried and wondered how she was feeling and doing in her new environment. This one, I’m not worried about. I don’t imagine her thinking about being there alone without me, the way I find myself focused on being here without her.

From now on, when I go to the market or stop for coffee after drop off, I won’t unbuckle and buckle. I won’t field requests to buy a pretzel or a donut or put money in the piggy bank for the ambulance fund. I’ll buy what I need, chat for a minute. Go back to the empty car. Drive home. Do what I need to do.

I told people it wouldn’t be all the different this year. I’m used to doing drop off and then working most of the morning.

But I’m not used to the empty car as I pull out of the school lot. I’m not used to coming into the house alone. Maybe once we settle into routine, it won’t feel so strange, but right now it feels empty, quiet, still.

I waited so long for this. It went by so fast.

Your Turn

Write with Me:
Have you ever had somebody say to you, “Enjoy every moment! It goes so fast”?

You hear it often while you’re up every couple hours to feed a baby or recovering from  (or still dealing with) a meltdown in the grocery store. That really little stage does go fast, though it doesn’t always feel like it at the time.

Today, I started with the idea of it goes so fast. Try that or pick another cliché. How do you feel when somebody says it to you? What situation from your life does the saying apply to (or not apply to)? You might respond to the cliché, use it as a theme, give an example, or tear it apart. Write your cliché at the top of your paper—then just write what comes to you.

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