They sat lined up against the dark blue wall while the summer breeze made the curtains dance into the room. As I pulled out the whiteboard and every color marker imaginable, I lectured at them with pride and sincerity. Today I was teaching them their times tables. Chou-chou raised her hand to answer a problem, and as I called on her, I heard a familiar snicker to my right. Joseph had earned himself a two minute time-out in the naughty chair while the class applauded Chou-chou on her impeccable work. Joseph was always a trouble-maker, and I always found myself dedicating valuable class time to his behavioral issues. This was my responsibility, and boy did I believe it.
The following day was a family day. I packed up my six children, Charlie, Micheal, Oliver, Chou-chou, Wilbur, and Sammy in the baby jogger and we headed out for a picnic. Holding the two youngest in my arms, I kept an eye out for the others playing in the soft, emerald grass. The world whirred around us, yet the blur of passing cars did not phase me. The eldest played on the swingset as I fed the littles their bottles. I poured my heart and soul into the care I put out for my children. Before bed that night, I sang them all the sweet songs my parents sang to me. I tucked them in and planted a gentle kiss on every little forehead, plush, plastic, and pale fabric. That night however something was different. The following day I would start school as a fifth grader at Hebron Station, my last year before finally making it to Hebron Academy. My dream was coming true, but it felt more like my worst nightmare. I felt empty in the space below my ribs. A small ache that I could bear but one that wouldn’t go away. I challenged myself to focus on the following day, new friends and a new teacher, my last first day of true adolescence, but the ache remained. Growing more and more frustrated at this uneasy feeling I began to grow very sleepy until the next thing I saw was the soft light of morning.
“BUS!” shouted Rachel, as the ugly egg-yolk screeched around the corner into sight. Nervously smiling at bus driver Stacy as I passed by, I finally took my seat at the back of the bus. I was a cool kid now, yet I felt bothered by something that I still could not decipher. I went about my day at school pushing and prodding that feeling of uncertainty to the back of my mind. Finally the bell rang and I could go home to my kids. I sat next to my best friend Sam on the bus, but we weren’t having our usual pointless and hilarious conversation. Today we sat quietly in each other’s presence, he with a straight forward gaze and I focused out the window on the passing shambled houses. That was the bus ride that lasted a whole lifetime. Looking back, that was the busride I will never forget.
I walked in the door of our house and gave a quick “hi” to my mom on the way by; I scampered up the stairs to my room. However as I went to turn the doorknob of my creaky wooden door, I paused and my hand fell back down to my side. I turned around and walked slowly back down the stairs. I grabbed the clear plastic bags from underneath the sink, formerly familiar to me only for the recycling, and climbed the long staircase back to my room. This time, as I reached for the doorknob something inside me broke in half. It was time and I had decided. So I pushed on.
Thud..thud..thud...the bag slowly dropped to each step behind me. It was no longer just a bag for throwing away, but an encasement of what I’d always known to be the truest love. Every last one of them, placed carefully into what felt like a never ending pit of destruction to my happiness. That night as I fell asleep, a deep sadness grew from the pit of my stomach. Today that feeling crept up to the surface as it always will upon remembering that day. It’s as easy as counting to three.
For this is the day I said goodbye to my babies.