11 days left of school.
11 days left of familiar routine, preparing lunches and filling backpacks. 11 days left of first grade for our son, even less of preschool for our daughter. I find myself mildly tearful at the end of each school year because it is when I realize that time has, once again, quickly escaped my grasp.
This year things are more uncomfortable than usual. This is the end of preschool for our family. Next year our daughter starts kindergarten, full time, and I will have to say goodbye to eight years of stay-at-home-motherhood. Eight years is a long time. I’ve carried these kids from embryo to stability. I’ve spent the better part of a decade caring for their countless needs as infants, toddlers, preschoolers and young children. It hasn’t always been easy, but it’s been good. It’s been holding hands at the grocery store and buckling up into car seats. It’s been early morning cereal bowls and afternoon cracker snacks. I’ve been there for the scraped knees, nose bleeds and spilled paints. We’ve made impromptu trips to the swimming pool next door and the cousin’s house four hours away. Our schedule has afforded freedom through no-agenda yet also ties through nap-time. Life has been good, these eight years. I’m sad to see it go. I am ending an era. We are ending an era.
Next year life will change. They will leave at 8:30 and arrive at 3:30. The house will be quiet; quieter than it has ever been before. Peaceful in some ways; lonely in others. Pattering feet and joyful laughter will be replaced by ticking clocks. Their scraped knees will be attended to by other people, mere employees. I will grocery shop alone and when I see a mother with a cart full of cereal and children, I will look lovingly back at the last eight years. The best eight years of my life. So far.
Sending our son to kindergarten was difficult for me because he is my first and I feared what life would be like for him, and me, separated by so many hours each day. Sending our daughter to kindergarten will be the same, except I fear, much worse because she is my last. She is my partner. She is my fellow cooker, walker, shopper, and library-trip-maker. She is here and there and by my side nearly around the clock. What was so foreign to me those eight years ago when I started having children has now become so comfortable that being without my constant side-kick will, I’m afraid, sting.
There were plenty of times in these years when I looked forward to the day that my kids would be leaving for school. They were the days of wading through puke and poop and screams. I longed for peace and quiet. But now that I am here, standing on the cliff of that peace and quiet, I suddenly want to back pedal and return to life…at home…with kids…the way it is supposed to be. I am not fearful for them. They are fully capable and ready to fly. It is me who I am worried about it. Being their mother is who I am. Staying home is what I do. That wonderful cozy rug of my purpose is about to be yanked out from under my feet and I will have to find a new purpose. Sure, I’ll still be their mother, their cook, their driver and planner, their bedtime tucker-inner. But what about those dreaded hours of 8:30 to 3:30? Those hours that used to be full of need and duty will be empty. It’s the end of the era.
I don’t want to be overly dramatic about this. I don’t want to fear what could be great (which has been the case for our son who LOVES school!) I don’t want to loath the upcoming school year when it could turn out to be something well suited for our family. But the sting is still there. The sadness has crept in and I am little bit lost. I never thought that I was consumed by my status as a stay at home mother, as I have maintained interests in my time at home with the kids, but now that my title is about to be taken away I am starting to wonder where my purpose will come from. Not in a cliché kind of way, but rather where my pursuits should be headed. With the end of each era starts another. At the end of singleness started marriage (which has been far better than singleness). At the end of childless started parenthood (which has been way better than childless). At the end of stay at home motherhood started….? I guess only time will tell. But I certainly hope that it will compete with these most wonderful eight years. I hope that my life hasn’t reached the top and now it will only get worse. I must trust that there is life after kindergarten.
How did you handle this transition in your life? Your suggestions and words of wisdom are gladly accepted, and frankly, desperately needed.
PS. I am hereby officially seeking professional employment. Let me know if you hear of anything good.
11 days left of school.