When I was a little girl in the late 70s, the yellow school bus picked me up at dark thirty in the morning and bounced me around bumpy country roads before parking at the “bus barn” — a large parking lot next to the high school where the kids transferred from their neighborhood buses to the ones that would then drive them to their respective schools. De-segretation meant the district no longer had neighborhood schools.
But that’s not what I’m remembering today.
What strikes me today is the weird feeling I had each morning as I sat in my bus at the bus barn and stared out the window at the bus next to us slowly backing up. Watching the movement made me feel as if MY bus was moving forward even though we were stationary. The moving-but-not-moving sensation was disorienting and filled me with glee until I got older and started feeling the lurch of motion sickness.
I’m not on a bus at the moment, but I am experiencing the same lurch in an emotional sense as I grapple with my daughter growing up. She is the moving bus, and I’m still stationary. In the last few months, she has shot up, exceeding me in height, shoe size, weight, wit, beauty, knowledge, and intelligence (in her mind, but also in my mind, some of the time! :o)
Reviewing the list of items she has to memorize for Latin and Geography makes my brain hurt. Speaking of brains, mine feels like a murky swamp. I know there are items buried somewhere under the stagnant water, but I am having trouble bringing them to the surface. The other day she wanted to know how to spell “colonel.” Today I am able to spell it, but on the day she asked me….my brain went blank. All I could think of was “co…” and then I stopped. Both my daughter and husband get exasperated with me because I don’t appear to have been listening to them…when the fact of the matter I am having a hard time comprehending what is being said to me. It’s Mom Brain, I guess!
To put this in Star Trek terms, I am Captain Janeway. To me the Starship Voyager is at All Stop…but my daughter is traveling at Warp 9 without me. She no longer needs me to explain her math to her. She is taking charge of her own education now. All I do is make sure she has the supplies she needs and check to make sure all her assignments are completed. It feels as if my precious time of learning alongside her has come to a close. Soon I won’t be able to help her with any of her schoolwork. How can I edit her papers when I can’t remember how to spell?
So it’s one of those homeschooling days when SHE is humming along nicely, learning all sorts of interesting facts and disciplines. Her bus is moving forward. And I’m disoriented because I used to sit beside her. Now I sit apart, stagnant and frustrated. When we began Challenge A with Classical Conversations, I looked forward to the rigorous academics because I knew it would challenge her. I also cherished the thought of having some extra time on my hands. But today, watching her master more and more material independently…without my intervention or even my direction…I feel a lurch down deep in my mother’s heart. I know this is only the first flight of many that my little bird is taking, stretching her wings in an effort to be her own person, apart from me. I also understand that this is all as it should be.
But the sensation does make me wish I could throw in the towel, wave the white flag, and embrace the motion caused by her bus moving away from mine…I wish I could pull her into a hug and dispense with the academics. I’d love to spend the day just talking, figuring out who she is and who God created her to be. Frankly, I am afraid that these precious moments with her will one day be lost in the swampy sludge of my memory. I am thankful I have these words to document the incredible, fierce mother-love I have for my child.
Hopefully I’ll adjust to my new role in her life. I am certain that even if SHE is finished with me in a few years, God won’t be finished with me until he’s…well, finished with me on this earth. He still has a service for me. I pray He will light my sluggish mind enough to see it so I can follow…even if it is aboard the Old Fogey Bus.