So God Made a Mother Collection ➔

Most mornings I die a little when my baby rides away from me in his big yellow school bus. 

It’s never easy–this letting go thing–but I would argue it’s also never as hard as it is with the youngest. I’ve done this three other times, kissed three other foreheads and straightened their shoulders and zipped their backpacks and jackets and waved goodbye, and little parts of me chipped off every time for sure. But this one hits in me in my gut and has every day since the first time in September when that big loud bus pulled around the corner and came to a stop in front of my house to pick up the littlest, not even three yet.

He stood there trying his hardest to not look terrified, and I prayed I was succeeding in doing the same. We had watched hours of every YouTube video on school buses I could find and sang The Wheels On The Bus on loop until the words stopped making sense. We were as ready as we were going to get, but I wasn’t sure that was ready enough. I contemplated just scooping him up and making a run for it, tucking him under my arm and ducking back into the house and locking the door against all of it: the growing up and the leaving me and the never ending greedy procession of time. 

But it was too late, the bus doors opened, and his new bus aide stepped down and introduced herself as Ms D. Her eyes were kind and she smiled and opened her arms and said, “Here, let me take him,” and something in me softened and said maybe we were going to be okay after all.

And now it is her–Ms D–who I give my baby to every morning and who returns him to us every afternoon. And I was right about her. She is the kindest, gentlest, most giving woman you could imagine. Every Friday she buys treats for all the kids on the bus, and extras for their brothers and sisters just so they don’t get jealous. She knows birthdays and favorite colors and leads the kids in song so they don’t have a chance to even think about how they are driving away from their mamas in a big yellow box.

Their mamas breathe a little easier for it too. 

She gives me hope, not just for my baby and the other kids on the bus, but for humanity. She’s good people.

With her help we got into a groove and I even got a little lazy with it all and the ache started to dull, until one extra cold afternoon in January when something happened. My husband got stuck in traffic and the bus came early for drop off, and we missed it.

The bus came and we weren’t there.

I panicked and cursed myself for ever relaxing, as if the sheer force of my mama worry could have prevented this. I had visions of my baby ending up in some cold dark bus depot at the end of the line, shivering and forgotten.

But that didn’t happen. The bus came back around, my baby none the wiser, and Ms. D walked him off just as she always did, handing him to my husband without ever breaking her trademark smile. 

The next morning I just about fell over myself apologizing to her, but she cut me off mid-sentence with a hand on my arm. “Listen to me,” she said, with the kind of gentle firmness that you just know could silence a whole bus full of crazy pre-schoolers. “Don’t you ever worry about your baby. He’s my baby too now. We got him.”

I waited until they turned around before I burst into tears right there on the sidewalk, and for the first time I watched my baby ride away with them and I didn’t die at all, not even a little. I knew he was in good hands. 

Liz Petrone

Liz is a mama, yogi, writer, warrior, wanderer, dreamer, doubter, and hot mess. She lives in a creaky old house in Central New York with her ever-patient husband, their four babies, and an excitable dog named Boss, and shares her stories on lizpetrone.com. She can also be found on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

Summer Goes by Too Fast

In: Kids
Boy lying on bench at park, color photo

To my oldest, As our summer vacation nears an end and we begin school supply shopping, I think about all the things we didn’t get to do together this summer. I instantly feel mom guilt. All the plans I had made? Only half of them done—if that. RELATED: Remember When Summer Lasted Forever? All the books I was going to read to you at bedtime? Only a couple short ones. All the creative art we would do? Maybe just one time. The fact is, I let time slip away from me. I was too focused and anxiety-ridden about work, my...

Keep Reading

Going on Family Vacation with Young Kids is Work That’s Worth It

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mom with two young kids on airplane

Our routine will be a mess. Our toddler won’t sleep in a new environment. Our baby needs all of the gear. The flight could be a disaster. I went through a mental checklist of reasons why this kind of family vacation would be hard. It was a pretty convincing list if I’m being honest. I considered throwing a pity party dedicated to the concerns I shoulder as a mother. A few days later I felt a wave of conviction wash over me. I was dreading a trip that was meant to be a blessing to our family. Any kind of...

Keep Reading

I Want To Raise Good Sisters

In: Kids, Motherhood
Four girls sitting on a rock in the forest, color photo

My current dilemma: how to teach four little girls how to be good sisters when I have no idea what I’m doing? I was an only child growing up, and a tomboy at that. It was a lonely, quiet childhood. I remember wishing for a sister, but knowing that with my single mom, it wasn’t going to happen. So, the sister thing is a big mystery to me. I’ve noticed (admittedly with some envy) adult sisters together and their inside jokes, shared history, and language known only to each other. I’ve read about sisters in books. The relationships between the four...

Keep Reading

I Don’t Just Love You, I Like You

In: Kids, Motherhood
Young boy standing at bridge, color photo

My growing child, my heart often aches when I look at how big you have gotten. You aren’t a baby anymore, you’re a whole kid. You are your own person, with your own thoughts and feelings. You have your own friendships, and interests.  Parts of me realize you don’t need me the same, but deep down I know you need me all the same. And I’m realizing, that in all of these changes, my love for you is also a like.  RELATED: Being Your Mom is the Greatest Honor of My Life Because now we can connect in a whole...

Keep Reading

Dear Kindergartner, I’ll Always Remember You This Way

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and child touch foreheads

The first magical flickers of your strong heartbeat on a black and white screen— the reassuring evidence I needed to know you were gaining strength for this world. My belly grew, and I proudly went shopping for maternity clothes to cover it. I felt the first dances of your little feet, and it reminded me of butterflies taking flight— the movement of a true miracle. I’ll always remember you this way. The sounds of your first cries—music ringing in my ears. You were real, Earth-side, and wanting only to be loved. The softness of your skin, the way you smelled,...

Keep Reading

Having the Tools To Parent a Child with Sensory Processing Disorder Changes Everything

In: Kids, Motherhood
Child playing with water in tube

My heart leaped into my mouth as Soccer Mom, with her matching foldable chairs and ice-cold Gatorade, glared at me. I wanted to explain how hard I tried to be a good mom, to raise a kind human, but I swallowed the words so I could vomit them at my 5-year-old son on the ride home.   Didn’t he know that pushing another child was unacceptable? Hadn’t I taught him to use gentle hands?   RELATED: To the Special Needs Mom Who Sits Alone Despite implementing the parenting books that promised me a new kid by the week’s end, I often wondered...

Keep Reading

I’m Halfway Through Raising Little Kids

In: Kids, Motherhood
Two girls smiling outside

Today I stayed in my car a few minutes more than usual as my kids hopped out onto the hot driveway and ran inside. The cold air conditioning felt amazing after a long day at the local water park; so did the silence. Then it felt odd, so I turned on the radio. The song that started playing hit my soul: “Woah, we’re halfway there/Woah, livin’ on a prayer.” I’m always living on a prayer, but I also noticed we are halfway there. RELATED: Growing Up, You First Then Me Halfway through the year, more than halfway through summer, and...

Keep Reading

There’s No Instruction Manual for These Middle Years

In: Kids
Little girl smiling on porch

As a preschool teacher and a mom, I’ve always felt pretty confident in my parenting from ages birth to 5 years old.  I by no means am perfect, and I silently rejoiced the day my kids could pour their own cereal and turn on Netflix for themselves while I caught some extra sleep. Even though that’s probably not a proud mama moment to celebrate, it’s just the reality of parenting.  We both celebrate and mourn independence as our children need us less. And let’s be honest, oftentimes independence makes our daily lives easier. Yet it is bittersweet.  It feels like...

Keep Reading

Kindergarten is the Start of Letting You Go

In: Kids, Motherhood

We’re physically ready for kindergarten. We’ve got the backpack, the school supplies, the school clothes, and the new shoes. We’ve talked about it all summer. We’ve practiced the skills he will need, and how to open everything inside of a cold lunch box. We’ve talked positively about it and imagined all the friends he will meet and the places he will go, and how kind and caring the teacher will be. We’re physically ready for kindergarten. But here’s a little secret . . . My heart? My heart can’t fully be ready for him to go to kindergarten. I know...

Keep Reading

The Truth about Puddle Jumpers and Toddler Drowning, From a Grieving Mom

In: Kids
Little boy in Puddle Jumper on waterslide

The very last video I have of my 3-year-old son, Levi, is of him bobbing up and down in a Puddle Jumper.  His little legs kicking underwater, his eyes the spitting image of his daddy, and his older sisters, his happy grin, and his little voice saying “Cheese!” This time-stamped video, counting down the precious minutes we had left until he would end up in this very same pool, less than two hours later.  But this time, it was without the Puddle Jumper. I understand the sense of panic building inside you to avoid my story or read it just...

Keep Reading