Ending an Era; Down to the Wire

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.

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22 comments

  1. oh, man, my favorite unsentimental friend, this is so profound and so shared by many! My advice, even though I am still four years away from this myself, is what my advice has been for every other end-of-season we have gone through together: grieve it. Let yourself mourn this loss and cherish every. last. moment. until next fall! And I promise to be with you through it all!

    1. Yep, I think you’re right. I’ve found myself in somewhat of a mildly grievous place and I agree that I just have to let that ride itself out. Not wallow, just let the feelings be felt. Words of wisdom my friend, as always. Thank you.

  2. My transition was helped by volunteering at the school. I would be at the school one morning a week, helping in the library or during the computer lab. It was good to have time in the environment that my children were spending their day.

    1. Thanks for your suggestion and I quite agree. I currently volunteer at the school once a week and adore my time there. Just being in that environment and seeing how well the kids are cared for puts my heart at ease. In a perfect world I would find myself employed there next year. (Perfect world; although not likely I’m heading for it anyway.) Thanks again, it is a pleasure knowing that there are other Mommas who have walked this path well before me!

  3. Visiting from the Shine blog hop! You will find a new normal. I was in your shoes a bit (I work pt outside the home) just 2 years ago before my youngest was about to start kindergarten. What I miss most is actually not her–she is liking school and getting so much from it. I was surprised by how much I missed my friends. No more hanging out when the girls were hanging out. So my advice would be to make sure you make time for seeing your friends.

    1. Good to know, thanks for that little tidbit. I’ve thought about that, and all of the impromptu get togethers that we’ve thrown together over the years. I will certainly miss that and I’ll have to make sure that we will see see each other when the schedules work for all. Thanks for your comment. (And I’m so glad to hear that your girl loved school. I suspect much the same from mine. Which, in all honesty, makes this whole thing much easier!)

  4. I always love hearing different perspectives from others. My husband and I had so many kids in such a short time that each stage of our kids has been totally exhausted (example- we had 4 kids in diapers all at once, etc) that when it finally comes time to move on, there are only tears of joy from me. I was excited to send my kiddos off to school. Not that I don’t love being home with them, because I do so SO much, but it gave me a chance to miss them and be really excited to see them once it was time to hop off that bus. This year my daughter graduated from preschool. That was my 4th preschool graduation, with 2 more still to go… I will NOT miss preschool. I will be excited for what her kindergarten experience brings because with each step comes new and thrilling things for the kids. They are SO happy to bounce on to the next phase, I can’t help but be anything but happy for them. Keep the smile going strong, you’ll find your rhythm 🙂

    1. First of all, a major WOW to you as the mother of several kidlettes!! You seem to keep your head up and spirit high and I strive for the same attitude. Thanks for your encouraging words.

  5. I spent every second with my son until he was 2. After that he was only in daycare and then preschool part-time. I was so worried about being sad when he went to grade school. He’s in middle school now and I’ve realized that those school hours really aren’t so long, and between in-service days, holidays, election day, random school breaks, snow days, late starts due to the snow and parent-teacher conference days – there are plenty of days when he is till home with me.

    1. Love to hear your words of wisdom. Thank you for taking the time to look back from where you’ve been to help out those who are still here. Your comment soothes.

  6. Visiting you from Katherine’s Corner. It is definitely sad to reach the end of an era. I have five children and my oldest just graduated from high school this past weekend. I’ve stayed at home almost the whole time and I think you’ll be busier than you think while they’re at school. It sounds like a long time to fill, but I can almost guarantee that you’ll be protecting and savoring those hours after a few weeks! 🙂 #thursdayfavoritethings

    1. I like your choice of word: Savoring. That is exactly what I strive for.
      And best to you in your journey; I appreciate hearing from those who have done this before!

  7. New seasons of life are always tough. This particular season is not one that I have navigated. As a home school mom my kids are always with me. I can’t imagine dropping them off for someone else to care for and having a whole day to myself. That would feel… odd. Thanks for sharing via Family Fun Friday.

    1. We are walking different paths, you and I. The world has all kinds of kinds and it is a pleasure to hear of the experiences of moms walking down different roads. Thanks for sharing!

  8. I feel for you. I grieved when my husband and I concluded that our second child would be our last. There was a sorrow when we sold the bassinet which lovingly cradled both my girls. I bawled when the highchair was sold. I grieved when my baby girl suddenly was turned off of the breast and I realized I would never breast feed again.

    With these transitions, these shifts in life, we need to feel them and grieve them before we can accept them and move on.

    Hugs.

    Thanks for sharing (and for linking up to the SHINE Blog Hop).

    Wishing you a lovely day.
    xoxo

    1. Well said and completely agreed. I handled all of those situations similarly to you. And yet, after each transition I felt good and ready to go again. Thanks for sharing, it is nice to know that I am not alone in this boat…(and that I’m not the only one who cried about selling the high chair!)

  9. Funny cause just yesterday during a play date a friend and I were chatting about just this! Comforting to know other Mommies have the same feelings. I wish for my kids to be more independent and my son at 8 is at that stage and my daughter at 4 (next week) is headed in that direction. It feels good and sad all at the same time. Something my Mom always reminds me of is this, “one day you will miss these days.” Great post!

    1. People tell me that I will miss “these days” as well. And I am here, already missing them. Thanks for your comment; it is calming to know that this conversation is happening in other families. Best to you in your journey!

    1. I know! And I have quite considered this! Perhaps I’ll rewrite this in twelve years and (hopefully) talk about how well it all went over. Hopefully, though perhaps, at that time I’ll be too busy traveling the world together with my husband as we sail off into retired bliss 🙂
      Thanks for putting things into perspective.

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