Our school year has begun. Jonah and Ben started 5th grade, Aidan 1st, and Ella began preschool. At the bus stop on the first day of school, there was a huge rainbow that stretched over our neighborhood. I took that as a very good sign about the year to come.
This year I'm on top of things. We have a shower schedule, so boys don't get too "stanky." We have a morning schedule posted, as well as an after school schedule. We decide who is having hot or cold lunch at night. We put snacks in backpacks the night before, and fill up water bottles. If I'm really ambitious, I get the coffee pot set up for my Life Juice to brew right away in the morning. I'm on top of things.
It was a tricky first week when the three boys were at school all day. I miss them! But then, Ella went to school. Two mornings a week, for two hours each day. Ugh, it was like a punch to the gut. I felt a deep, uncomfortable, anxious, heaviness in my heart. I'm happy and proud that our kids are capable of doing what they're supposed to do as humans- go out into the world, make friends, learn, enjoy life. But I'm sad for me. The house was too quiet, too empty, there was no one to worry about. No one's tushy to wipe, no one to feed, no one to yell "MOOOO-OOOM!!!" eight thousand times, no one to negotiate arguments with...I knew this time was coming, that our lives were changing, and I knew it would be hardest for me. And it was. As my dad pointed out, I've been a full-time care giver to intensely needy children for ten years. It's hard to know what to do when that changes.
So I did some things just for me, these first couple weeks of school. Things like baking, running, reading a magazine (!!). It sounds crazy, but it was hard to do things that were just for me because I'm so used to doing things for my family. But by the end of this past week, I had had a few moments of joy while the kids were all at school. If I can let myself relax enough to enjoy these few short hours every week, I think we'll all be happier people. I find I have a lot more energy and patience for everyone when they get home from school. I'm happy to see them all, glad to hug them as they walk in the house, grateful I get to be here to hear about their days.
We'll make this work, this whole 'kids growing up' thing. It's tough on Mamas, but it's good for kids.