No, I didn’t I find out I was pregnant again, or get a new job. We didn’t move across the country, and I didn’t run my first marathon. As life changing as all those things are, this was even bigger. What was it, you may ask?
Something big happened to me this week. Something…transformational.
My youngest child started school.
Not half-day pretend school. Real, full-time school. (Because every mother knows half-day preschool and kindergarten don’t even leave you enough time to go to Costco. Hence, it doesn’t really count.)
Let me spell out for you in really concrete language what this means for me: After 17 years of motherhood, and more than 10 years of half-day preschool/kindergarten Hades, I now have 6 hours a day to myself, 5 days a week.
Are you kidding me?!
I will never again wake up a sleeping baby to take or pick someone up from half-day pretend school.
I will never again schlep a whining, begging, tantrum throwing toddler with me to Target, the grocery store, or lunch with friends. (And purchase random things not on my list just to pacify said toddler.)
And I will never again feel guilty about the screen time my last, lone, bored preschool age child is indulging in while I take a shower or get some cleaning done. (Is my Netflix membership even worth keeping from here on out?)
I know. This is the point in the story when you expect me to say how I’m actually really, really sad about this and I’m going to miss all of those precious moments I’m used to having all. day. long. But this is actually the point in the story when I say, Can someone give me a Hallelujah?
I admit that I thought I was going to be sad when the day arrived. In fact, I shed many tears off and on over the past year just anticipating this moment. And yet, as I dropped off my youngest two children at their shared elementary school on the first day, and my first grader was more than excited to have her cool big sister walk her to the classroom instead of me, I felt nothing but a deep and abiding sense of giddiness. Not even a flicker of sadness. Not even a hint of a flicker! And I utterly surprised myself.
After the drop off, I came home to a relatively clean and utterly quiet home and waited. Waited for the tears, for the sadness, for the sense of loss. But it never came. Never ever ever. Not only that, four days in to my glorious daytime solitude of wildly productive productivity, I’m realizing I don’t even miss my children when they are gone. Am I completely heartless or what?
But here’s the thing. I didn’t send them off to boarding school. Every weekday around 2:30 after I’ve had several hours to myself to get my head together and take care of all kinds of business (or simply stare blissfully into space with no one to break my meditative reverie), they come home again. And to top it off, today they will come home to stay for the weekend! What is there to be sad about, pray tell?
The fact of the matter is, I love my children fiercely and have dedicated the better part of the last 17 years of my life for their betterment and happiness (and have more than a few years of mothering young children still ahead). I made the decision long ago before any of my children were even born to stay home with them while they were young, and after spending many of those years feeling short on time and money, deprived of sleep and a social life, and more than a little frazzled, I did it. I MADE IT!
So now, at age 43 with 6 hours a day to myself, I kind of feel like a kid in a candy store. Maybe I will go back to school. Maybe I will start volunteering for a cause that is important to me. Maybe I will just dig into all the silly little personal projects I’ve been putting off for the last 17 years like organizing my recipes. Maybe I will get my brain and my body back.
Yes, my children are growing up and needing me less. They are moving upward and outward into a world and a life of their own creation. And I suppose I can drum up some feelings of wistfulness about this, but really? I just want to scream from the housetops, Can someone give me a Hallelujah?
QUESTION: Who is with me? Who thinks I’m heartless? If all your children went to full-time school this year, how did you react?
CHALLENGE: If you are in the same situation this school year, let yourself experience whatever feelings come without judgment or expectation. If you’ve been in tears all week long, that’s totally understandable and more than okay. If you have a deep and abiding sense of giddiness like me, don’t feel guilty or judge yourself harshly. Just enjoy!