published Monday, December 12th, 2011

Hill: On Grandparents Day at preschool, it's hard to say goodbye

I attended my first Grandparents Day at my 4-year-old granddaughter's preschool a couple of weeks ago. I left in tears. I knew I would.

It's a new school for her, and it was my first time there.

I was impressed. I liked everything about the school, particularly the staff. I couldn't have handpicked better teachers.

As soon as I walked into the classroom, my granddaughter jumped from her seat, screamed "Mom" (she calls me Mom because that's what my daughter calls me) and flew into my arms.

I picked her up, we hugged and kissed, and neither of us let go. This, to me, is heaven. Having children to love and who love us back with all their being is priceless.

She had drawn a picture for me and introduced me to a few of her friends. In just a short time, though, it was time to leave.

"Take me with you, Mom," she said.

"I can't, baby. Mom has to go to work," I answered.

"I can go to work with you, Mom. I won't talk. I won't bother anyone. I will just sit next to you," she said.

Oh, how I longed to say, "C'mon, sweetheart. You can come with me. You can sit next to me at work while I'm writing, and then I can just stop for a minute, get some hugs and kisses, and go back to writing." Instead, I said, "Baby, Mom has to go."

Tears began streaming down her face, and she grabbed hold of me.

"Mom, take me with you," she cried. "Please, Mom, please."

The teacher gently pulled her off, assuring me that my granddaughter would be OK.

But what about me? Was I going to be OK? How could I walk out of the room, out of the building, hearing my baby girl crying out for me? I wanted her just as badly as she wanted me. Probably more.

I kissed her again and said, "Baby, I will see you at home in just a little while. Mom has to go to work."

I walked away. With tears streaming down my face, I couldn't help but question my 59-year-old level of maturity. I haven't changed since my children were growing up. Leaving them wherever I had to leave them -- school, camp, college, graduate school -- has always been hard on me. I want them.

But as I walked to my car, I realized how lucky I am. Not only do I get to go to Grandparents Day, I get to see my granddaughters every day. My tears quickly turned into a smile. My family is the reason I refer to myself as "the richest person I know."

One hour later, my granddaughter's teacher called my daughter to tell her that everything was fine. Within 30 minutes after I left, my granddaughter was laughing and playing. The teacher, it turns out, called because she was worried about me.

I was a wreck.

Some things never change.

about Karen Nazor Hill...

Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...

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