(post and photos, copyright 2013, Dawn Weber)
I've bought a wee Spiderman backpack and filled it with only bare necessities - a lunch box, a blanket, a light jacket.
Everything you need is in your pack; I made sure. The thing only weighs two pounds, tops, but even as small as it is, its size and heft threaten to topple you. You carry it like a tiny, wobbly homeless man - like a little hobo failure. But you don't complain.
You seldom do.
I've been looking forward to this for a while now; I'm going back to work, you're starting pre-school. We have been home together for two and a half years. It was mostly wonderful - and sometimes awful - and the fact that I feel this way makes me horribly, heart-wrenchingly, gut-clenchingly guilty.
Time at home hadn't been my idea. I was part of a mass corporate layoff shortly after your birth, and my fast-paced, jet-setting world quickly became Barney, burp cloths, the couch.
I should have been grateful - and partly, I was. The rest of me missed my career - the adult companionship, the paychecks, the capability to buy new shoes.
But there wasn't a choice.
So I plucked you from the crib each morning, hugged, changed and fed you. Then, we plopped down Indian-style, and I pulled you into the space between my knees and began searching the paper in vain for something it would take me 2.5 years to find - a job that paid enough to cover child care.
A job that paid enough for me to leave you again.
Towards the end of our stint, you lost the diapers and began talking, and those were the best of times, the days you leaned your head back on my t-shirt, heaved a contented sigh and said things like:
"Ahh, boobies. I like boobies!"
You are your father's son.
And we made the best of things, you and me.
All of this runs through my head as I walk you through the hallways to your room. I look down at you, you look up at me, and I know we're both thinking the same thing: Let's turn around. Let's go to McDonald's.
Let's go home.
I might do it. I might pick you up and carry you to the car. Because all those times I'd wished for one hour, one nano-second, one new pair of shoes for myself - I take them back.
I don't want you to go.
Stay tuned! This piece is an abridged excerpt of an essay from my upcoming book. It was inspired by the pictures shown here, taken that day, as we walked into the school and down the hallway.
He's 10 now. But he's still a good little Hobo.