"I love you, momma."
"I love you, too, Quinn!"
"Why do you leave me at school?"
An innocent inquiry by our preschooler, age 3 years + 3 months. No melodramatic drawal, no puppy-dog eyes. Just a question posed in her typical matter-of-fact tone as she wiggled out of her snow boots after a particularly harried and freezing cold Tuesday evening. They'd been discussing Love at preschool this week, and so the increased frequency of "I love you's" and the priceless statements about how "Mommies and daddies and babies and kids really love each other so much" did not come as a huge surprise. But, my world stopped for a moment when she followed an "I love you" with a question that evoked a certain degree of Mommy Guilt that I thought I had overcome!
As parents, our hearts skip a beat when moments like this happen. A million thoughts were racing through my head as I unzipped her coat, plucked off her hat and smoothed her staticky bob.
She's smart! How could she connect a concept like love with a concept like betrayal? How does she know that I do sometimes worry that she'll think I love her less because I work a full-time job???
Wait. She doesn't have a clue. That is way too big for a three year old. She's got me sucked in, I can't give her so much credit!
But... gah!!! Ouch. She kinda hit me where it hurts.
What to say? I think I blurted out something about how school is a great place for her, and she gets to learn and have fun, she's lucky to have a wonderful teacher, not all kids are so lucky, yadda yadda. Needless to say I stammered out multiple alternate responses in my head as the night wore on. Each one came from an anxious, defensive place. Were any of them even necessary?
Probably not. Kids rattle out their thoughts and questions at a mind-blowing rate. I hate - I mean HATE! - Mommy Guilt. It's a waste of energy when the fact is, we're doing what's right for our family. And yes, her question put a hiccup in my confidence, for sure... but... I am holding fast to the idea that "Why do you leave me at school?" had far less to do with separation anxiety issues and far more to do with... well, I don't know. Kids are mysteries.
That's just one reason I like them so much!