It started innocently enough.
I was sitting at the table, drinking coffee, lazily making a to-do list for the day. It’s an ordinary thing to do, but this is not an ordinary day. This day, this joyful/tearful, completely confusing oxymoron of a day is the day that my littlest girl starts preschool.
It’s a wonderful thing. It’s exactly what everyone in our family needs. My girl is almost three, and more than ready to venture out of our family bubble and into the world of teachers and friends and circle time and cubbies. I am more than ready to have a little bit of breathing room in my life so that I can think and write and get things done and maybe take care of myself for once. And my husband and the twins are certainly ready to have a happier, less stressed-out wife and mom who doesn’t freak out when everyone talks at once, or mutter nonsense to herself while aggressively scrubbing the sink…
My youngest daughter has been right by my side almost every day since she came home from the hospital. When her big sisters started going to preschool two days a week, she became my chirpy little sidekick, making me laugh out loud at the grocery store, eating bagels with the ducks at the park, and patiently picking huge bunches of clover for me as we soaked up the sun in our backyard. I’ve been able to spend hours of one-on-one time with her, and in those hours she and I created our own little delightfully ordinary world.
Now, that little world is fading away. In its place, of course, a whole new world with the possibility of quiet time for yoga and industrious flurries of writing is just starting to blossom, and it’s absolutely thrilling. But still.
So there I was, at the table with my to-do list of tasks both mundane (clean the kitchen) and delicious (read a book in peace and quiet) for this day. As I sat there, hearing nothing but the sound of the kitchen clock, a song wormed its way into my head: “The Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel. I thought, Haha, very funny, brain. Yes, this silence is just lovely. Maybe I’ll put on some Simon and Garfunkel while I do the dishes.
So I did.
At first, it was great. “The Sound of Silence” was the first song that came on, so that itch was scratched. Then it was all, “Dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee” and “koo-koo-ka-choo, Mrs. Robinson” as I bee-bopped around putting dishes in cupboards. But then came “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” Oh. Right. This song.
“Bridge Over Troubled Water” can make me cry on the best of days. Between the swelling orchestral sound and the simple but intense lyrics, it’s practically holy music.
Quite frankly, I was choked up right off the bat, but by the time Garfunkel got to
Sail on, silver girl
Sail on by
Your time has come to shine
All your dreams are on their way
See how they shine
Oh, if you need a friend
I’m sailing right behind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind…*
it was all over.
My little silver girl is sailing on without me. She’s not going far yet, just a few feet ahead, and I could reach out and hold onto her hand if she needed me to, but I’ll try to let her be. She can still look back to catch my eye, to throw me a smile and say, “watch this, Mom,” but she’s on her way. And I know she’ll be such a good sailor. She’s brave and bright, fearless and sweet, her own little person.
All of this is good. It really is. But damn it, motherhood, you’re picking me up and throwing me around yet again. Troubled water indeed.
*Lyrics are from “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” written by Paul Simon and produced by Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel, and Roy Halee, from the album Bridge Over Troubled Water, produced by Columbia Records, 1970.