Sometimes, I feel like he’s a little muddled in,a little bit mushed between the older and the younger, wondering what he’s supposed to be doing if he’s not being side 2 of a duo, the older , the little. His is a life of always second, the reliable, the easy, my aid in the long days of so many little boys with so many needs. At night he asks for the songs I sang to him when he was tiny and so I “Baby Mine” him and we whisper, “God bless the moon and God bless me and God bless the ones that I love to see” together in the dark of the bottom bunk. He scooches his head into my neck and I think he’s trying to be that tiny bit of need and helplessness again. I push his hair back off his forehead as I sing and I cradle him as best I can, hoping he knows he can still be my baby. I miss him too.
I put him in preschool this year. One half morning a week, he waltzes into a room and for 3 hours, he’s his own self. No Mommy asking for help because it’s just easier, no brothers yelling louder or needing more.
He’s just Silas.
I pick him up and he’s all grins and shoulders back. He hands me his work, his pride streaming from his blue eyes. Seeing him like this gives me that rare feeling of calm, of peace.
This is right for him.
I did the right thing.
When he was bitty, and when his brother was growing before him, I promised myself I’d never do this, send him off to preschool. Unnecessary, I said. I pushed back against anyone who tried to convince me that children need to be anywhere but at home during their earliest years.
No, not my boys.
I wanted them close to the nest, gathered round me as we explored the world together, learning all they needed to know from the push and pull of family life, hearing the voices of Brandon and I first and loudest in the early years of shaping and molding.
But this year, I learned something I didn’t know then, something I couldn’t have known then.
I didn’t know Silas.
I didn’t know what our family would look like. I certainly didn’t know I’d have 4 little boys in the span of five years. I didn’t know how stretched I’d be and how I’d have to let go a bit if my boys were to ever know themselves as anything other than “one of the boys”.
I still think preschool as a necessity for “kindergarten readiness” or socialization is a silly idea when a mother or father is home and family life is rich. And I know it wasn’t right for my Cole-man. And I have no idea if my other boys will attend.
But for my sweet Silas, those 3 hours mean something to him. They mean that I see him, that I’m willing to do something just for him. That for three hours, other people are getting to know him as himself, apart from me, apart from his brothers. They’ll see things we don’t. And they’ll help him see those things too. And he desperately needed that.
So many ideals. So many realities. It’s a constant laying down of pride and ready-made answers, finding the truth of each situation buried in the heart of each little child. It’s a treasure hunt, this finding the best for each little life entrusted to my care. It’s a stripping down of a mother, a practice of giving life over and over again. An opening of clenched fists, a turning of eyes and heart upward. A handing over and letting go.
And it’s worth it.