“Mom, don’t wave at me”

Weekday mornings are a chaotic whirlwind of packing lunches and serving breakfast and making sure the right child has the right trumpet on the right day.

Then one boy is off on the bus before the other one is climbing into the car to be dropped off at school.

I think sometimes that school drop-off might be the most important thing I do all day. As frustrating as it can be to find the shoes and the jacket and argue about whether a child should wear pants on chilly mornings, I enjoy delivering our littler boy safely to his school, ready for a day of learning and fun. I know I won’t always have that window of time with him in the car to start my day.

Each morning I drop him off, drive around the circle, and wave to him from my car.

Or I used to, I should say. One evening we were talking and he said, “Mom, don’t wave at me when you drop me off at school.”

“Oh,” I said. “OK.”

I didn’t ask him to explain. I didn’t have to. But I know. I know he’s growing up. I know he’s not the tiny guy who used to run to the preschool window and wave until I drove away every morning. I recognize that he’s not the child who begged me to carry him to the car long after it was easy for me to lift him. These days I know to give him his hug and kiss in the house before we leave. He’s growing up.

I’m OK with that. Time is a gift, and I’m grateful to be here to watch him grow. I’m thankful that I have him and that he has me. Too many children grow up without parents. Too many parents don’t get to see their little ones grow up.

So I am OK, but I am also human. I feel the twinge of sadness that things change.

So I won’t wave when I’m dropping him off. I’ll just keep driving. But you know I’ll also be watching to make sure he’s settling in—running to say hi to a teacher or connecting with friends outside the school—before he starts his day.

You can tell your mom not to wave, but she still watches you to make sure you’re doing just fine. If that’s how I feel as an imperfect and very human mother, how much more must our Father in Heaven love us. When we act as if we don’t need Him and can handle things ourselves, maybe He smiles and nods and lets us think we are going to manage alone. But I bet He’s watching with such tremendous love, ready to step in if and when we need Him.

And maybe if we look closely, we will see Him waving at us and cheering us on.

Rita Buettner

Rita Buettner

Rita Buettner is a wife, working mother and author of the Catholic Review's Open Window blog. She and her husband adopted their two sons from China, and Rita often writes about topics concerning adoption, family and faith.

Rita also writes The Domestic Church, a featured column in the Catholic Review. Her writing has been honored by the Catholic Press Association, the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association and the Associated Church Press.