Last week, I did something I really didn’t want to do.
My heart told me it wasn’t time. Hold on. I wasn’t ready. My head, on the other hand, reminded me that while I may not be ready – my son was. And if I was being honest? That’s who this was really about – him.
I tried to prepare myself for the myriad of emotions that would come, but no matter the amount of mental preparation (or extra time spent snuggling on the couch) nothing I did could fully prepare me for the long walk down the hall and through the doors of my baby’s kindergarten classroom.
Regardless of the fact I already traveled down this road with his three sisters. I should have been an old pro! Instead, I held a strong desire to slow down time and keep him with me — just a little longer. Regardless of the fact I didn’t want to really be doing this? It was still happening.
Regardless of how I may have been feeling — he was overjoyed.
As I watched him make his way into the building and down the hall sporting his brand new sloth t-shirt that he couldn’t wait to wear, with a gigantic grin plastered on his face, I knew I had to keep it together. This was not the moment to unleash Niagara Falls down my face.
My husband and I greeted the teacher and, with the help of his big sisters, made sure his backpack went in the cubby and that he found a good seat. We gave him a hug and said our goodbyes. It was quick and to the point — not at all the elaborate goodbye scene I had imagined. Probably for the best.
When we left the building, my husband commented on how well I was doing. In that moment? I lost it. Everything I had bottled up inside came rushing out of me. Cue Niagara Falls.
You see, I spent the past twelve years at home with my children. Sure, they went to preschool. But that was only for a few hours, a couple of days a week. This was different. My youngest going to elementary school meant that for almost eight hours, five days a week — all four of them would be gone.
Not long ago, it felt like the days of them being home with me would stretch on forever. And in what felt like the blink of an eye, that time passed. Gone were the days of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. No more diapers to change, strollers to push, or Cheerios to pick up off the ground. We were now officially a house of school-age children.
For many years, I longed for peace and quiet and the ability to use the bathroom by myself. I wanted to be able to tackle items on my list and not feel the burden of mommy-guilt weighing me down. I wanted space.
And now? I have it. Lots of it.
And now that I have it? I miss them. I miss the noise, the chaos, the silliness, the lap-sits, and the snuggles. Undoubtedly, I miss the chubby little baby hands and squishy cheeks covered with applesauce. I miss the daytime trips to the park and story time at the library.
Every day. I miss it.
How’s that for irony?
But here’s the other side of the coin. (Because there are always two sides.) Yes, I miss all of the above. But do you know what I like? The peace and quiet. Being able to pick up my house and have it stay that way for a few hours. The ability to choose what I am going to do today and not worrying about how my children are going to handle the ten errands I have to run. Learning more about myself. What are my passions? How can I use this time to benefit my family and community?
I like these things.
I’m learning it’s not all bad. Some things are actually good.
I am learning to silence my mind when it tries to journey down the over-analyzing path of the Was-it-enoughs? Did I play enough? Do enough? Teach them enough? Did I spend enough time with them?
Did I take full advantage of the time when I had them here with me?
When that part of my mind takes off, I remind myself I did my best and nobody is perfect. I remind myself it wouldn’t have been good to play all day. Life is about balance, and I believe I taught them that. Sometimes, the pendulum may have swung too far to one side. But for the most part, there was balance.
And the most important thing?
They know they are loved. So very loved.
As I sit here typing this, I know I will have moments when I miss them, and I know I will have moments when I will revel in the sound of silence.
I am entering a new chapter in my mothering journey.
As it is said, “There are two gifts we should give our children; one is roots, and the other is wings.”