Nine out of ten times, I'm the one to drop Charlie off at daycare. We hustle out of the house and drive five miles north to the tiniest neighboring town. We pull in the loooooooong skinny driveway and hop out of the car. We tromp up the wooden steps of the back door, and push open the door that sticks just a bit too much. We stamp snow or rain or mud off our boots and I gently tug C's hat off his head. Dogs bark, a baby coos, and crazed middle schoolers run wild looking for their sweatshirts, shoes, backpack, or assignment that is due today.
Sometimes, Charlie shakes off his coat, kicks off his boots, and bounds into the kitchen to start his day. Other days, he curls into my leg and hides behind me like he used to do when he was just learning to walk. Those mornings are the worst. The ones where I need to pry him from my body and the last thing I see before leaving the house is him in someone else's arms, crying and reaching out for me. I know these moments only last a minute, but that doesn't mean they're any less heartbreaking.
But on the good days, the days where he skips into the kitchen hoping to have an extra breakfast (or at least some chocolate milk), the memory of leaving is sweet. Before I head out the door, he runs to me exclaiming, "Huggy and kissy!" to which he gives me no less than ten kisses (directly on the lips) and that many bear hugs. Then, I slip out the door, and he races to the window-- where he eagerly awaits my descent down the long driveway. He stands at the window and blows kisses-- hundreds at a time-- and when I blow them back from the car window, he "catches" them and pantomimes stuffing them down his shirt. He created this gesture on his own-- I have no idea where it came from. But I like the idea of my kisses staying safely snuggled against his skin, right next to his heart while I'm away.
Next year at this time, we'll be months away from ending this morning ritual. The only ritual that he and I have ever known-- and in many ways I can't believe it's almost time for that. And something that is so ordinary, so 'everyday', so taken for granted, will become a memory in an instant. It strikes me how important it is for me to remember these small, little, insignificant moments-- because isn't that what ultimately composes the most significant memories in life? This, these tiny moments, are life.
If you need 60 seconds of tears-- or just a little tug at your heart, here's a little video for ya.