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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Hiccups

Seven days ago my life forever changed. All four of my children woke up in the morning and got on a school bus. For all-day school. All my children. And get this-- there's no baby at home to take care of! Usually once a kid is in preschool, we have another baby around to love and snuggle and cart around while I do my errands. Not this time. They've all gone off to school. This is a huge Life Change for me. After 12 years of taking constant care of other humans, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, there's just little old me home. Alone. For 6 hours, 5 days a week. I do have to take care of Ollie, the Dog, but that's not quite the same as taking care of a human. He sleeps on the couch all day. None of my humans have ever done that.








 Four days before school started, I had a mental breakdown. I got all the kids to bed and then bawled my eyes out. Because all my kids were going to school, but especially because my littlest baby was going to school. How can such a small person leave their Mama and get on a bus and be gone for 6 hours and go to the bathroom without my help and eat lunch without my help and ask questions without me and not have me around to kiss her owies and tell her I love her?? I told Alex that I like Ella too much to share her. I want her home with me forever. She of course has challenging moments, we all do. But the enchanting way she has of saying what's on her mind, or the way she runs down the hill while holding Ollie's leash on our walks, with her hair bouncing behind her, or the way she says things like "*sigh* It's a beautiful day just like in Arrandell" (from 'Frozen'), or the way she calls VW Bugs "lady bug cars", or the way she wraps her sweet, slightly sticky arms around my neck and feels my hair and says "I love you, Mama"…how will my days go on with my sweet, enchanting Ella? I like her too much to share her.

But the day came to put her on the bus. I don't show my kids how heartbroken I am that they leave me and go to school. Because most of them have anxiety about leaving me, and if they saw that I was just as sad as they are, they would never leave the house. And I'd have to homeschool. Which I would not be good at and they would not enjoy. So I focus on the amazing achievement of having made it through another summer, and the excitement of the upcoming school year, and how big the kids are, how much they've learned and grown, how great it is that they are getting more independent and that they're able to get on a bus and go out in the world and do what kids are supposed to do. I focus on that. I'm not a Crying At The Bus Stop kind of Mama, not that there's anything wrong with that. I just hold my sadness in my heavy heart until I have a little privacy to shed a little tear. Or two. Or 40,000.

The first morning of school, Ella was THRILLED because I had to wake her up when I woke up Aidan. Last year she was so disappointed that I never woke her up like I did her brothers. She would sometimes go back to her bed, close her eyes and pretend to be asleep, and DEMAND that I woke her up. So to be old enough to be woken up, wow. That's a big deal at our house. (The kid needs to learn to sleep later than 5:30 am and then maybe she'll get woken up now and then!) 
"Moooom! We're too old for pictures!!"
I had made Ella and Aidan a little checklist of things to do in the morning so Ella knew how to get ready for school. Aidan was such a helper. He got dressed because Ella was excited to get dressed. He volunteered to go potty first. They ate breakfast together. They were so excited. Ben and Jonah came out to the bus stop with us, to watch their baby sister FINALLY get on that bus that she has watched and envied for so many years. There wasn't a tear in sight (from the kids at least. My tears were hiding in my heart.) as the bus pulled up after I got all my First Day pictures. Ella was right at the front of the bus line and climbed up those bus stairs like she knew just what she was doing. She sat down in her seat and waved to me excitedly. It was a much different scene than when I sent Ben and Jonah on the bus the first time to Kindergarten. I have a picture of Ben looking out the bus window in tears. It's a terrible, gut-wrenching picture. I don't know why I captured that moment. But Ella was so happy to be a Big Kid and get on that school bus with her big brother and all her neighborhood friends.

The first couple days of school have gone well, overall. The kids are all a little overwhelmed. As of day 1 1/2 of school, Aidan had already lost his assignment notebook. Ben and Jonah are a little freaked out and overwhelmed by 7th grade, but they're hanging in there. No major panic attacks have happened since the night before school started, so that's good. The kids are all very tired by the end of the day, and Ella was upset on Friday because she raised her hand when it was potty time but no one called on her so she didn't go. I emailed the teacher, who is one of my top 3 Most Favorite and Amazing Teachers On The Planet and let her know a little bit more about Ella. Including the fact that advocating for herself is still something we're working on. The teacher emailed me this morning and said Ella had already had a bathroom break! Hurray! 
She made it! First day of Kindergarten accomplished!
Two days ago, Ella got off the bus and collapsed in my arms, as usual. As I carried her into the house and snuggled her warm little body, she said softly that she didn't get to eat lunch that day. Trying not to overreact, I asked her a million questions about her statement. She said the teachers and kids told her she couldn't have lunch. Or snack. Hm. Strange. I thought there had to be something fishy about her story, but just in case she really didn't get lunch I emailed the teacher. Again. And told her what Ella had said. The teacher was horrified and said that she was in the lunchroom and was almost positive that all the kids had food in front of them. She said she'd make sure to watch Ella more closely. I said maybe she just didn't want to eat or something, who knows.

That night, I had the time and energy to make Grandma M's homemade lasagna! I never make things from scratch for weeknight dinners, it's always something just thrown together, because I'm stressed and tired. AND we ALL sat at the dinner table TOGETHER to eat said lasagna!! This also never happens in our house. We usually let the kids eat where they fall once they come in for a landing at dinner time. They're too tired and overwhelmed from their days to cooperate about coming to the table to chat with the fam. The fam can irritate and aggravate everyone's fragile moods. So this was a rare occasion. 

We chatted. It was lovely. I love spending time as a family when we're not fighting. I asked Aidan how his lunch was, what he had eaten. He told me. Then out of the blue, little Miss Ella pipes up that she had the BEST corn dogs for lunch. AND they had PEACHES at school! 

uh…what now???

I subtly asked her more questions about her lunch-- if I freaked out about the fact that she had told me she didn't get lunch, I emailed the teacher, etc, she would have shut down and cried. I wanted more details to make sure I knew which story was the true one. Sure enough, she had all kinds of details about her delicious school lunch that day. I gently reminded her of how she had told me that she didn't get to have lunch. She stopped like a deer in headlights and said "Ohhhhhh. I guess I forgot that I did get lunch."

I emailed the teacher again and said "Here is why I love 5 year olds." Luckily she thought the story was funny and wasn't annoyed with us at all. Whew. 

So the hiccups continue. I'd like to say that after awhile, the kids will get the hang of school and there will be fewer hiccups, but I know my children. We're going to have chronic hiccups all year. It's our MO. I'm ready. I have more energy since the kids are all at school. I'm so excited to see them climb down those bus stairs in the afternoon. I'm so content when all Ella wants to do is sit on my lap and snuggle after school. At least until a friend rings the doorbell to play. Maybe this change of everyone being in school will have some positives. I'll have to get used to being alone, and I don't like that. But there are positives. For instance, do you know how much more you can get done when you're a grownup and you're alone? As a mom, I have in my head how long it will take to do whatever. Like how much time I need to allow for kids to get shoes on. Or how long it will take them to go potty. Or how many times they will fuss about something they think is necessary to buy at the grocery store. Or how many times I'll have to put someone into or out of the cart. I figure all these things into my every day, and make sure we have time for all of it. But now there is no one to buckle in a car seat. No one to take to the remote bathroom at Hobby Lobby. No one arguing about the fact that they would really prefer to go to the library naked and shoe-less. It's just me. I just get in my big ol' empty van and go. I just put the leash on the dog and walk-- there's no arguing about who is going with and what vehicle they will be riding that I will end up carrying home on my hip. I feel guilty about this, but logistically life is just easier when the kids are all at school. I can get so much done. So when the kids come home, I'm ready for them. 

Bring on the hiccups. I can see some big ones coming our way, but I'm ready. We're all growing in new ways this year, and growth can bring pain. But in the long run, growth is always good, right?

1 comment:

Full Spectrum Mama said...

Lovely!
I am going to share with you a piece of advice a more-experienced Mama gave me three years ago when my youngest went off for a full day for the first time: you THINK now you will be able to accomplish "everything" but it may take you up to a year to just feel able to do ANYTHING.
And for those of us with extra special kids I think that goes double since we have more meetings and other things to deal with AND we are more tired. Though very loving and happy too of course ;)
So don;t expect too much of yourself - all that will come in due time!
Love,