It takes a while for things to iron themselves out in my heart. Always has. New routines, big changes. Small changes, big trips. I need time to process and think and sort and fall in love and all of the above. I just need time. Because these moments don’t just happen to later forget them, they happen to me as part of the fabric of my life. Of my memory. Of me.
Having both of my kids in all day school has been one of these moments. I feel differently about it almost every day, until this morning. And I can finally write about it.
I don’t know how to answer you when you ask me what it’s like, if I “love the freedom”, how I’m doing or any of those things. Some days the respite from a constant need-based relationship is welcome, other days I’m so lonely I can’t quite function. At all. Lovely strangers in coffee shops who know us only by our daily presence have offered their advice that maybe it’s time for another baby?
How do I pull all of this into one answer for you? How do I tell you, without actually telling you, that it’s surprisingly painful to pack your kids a lunch and kiss their heads as they walk into the doors of their education. How do I tell you that it’s exciting and a little addicting to be able to run errands and pop in stores I normally wouldn’t all because I can? Because I’m alone, because it won’t be an exercise in patience, for me or them? How do I explain that sending them to school is both a blessing and a curse? That the second they get out of my car I worry if their making friends or falling behind or how they liked their lunch? Are they eating enough? Was this the right decision? Are we doing anything right?
I worry about them fitting in, I worry about fitting in with the mom’s so we can forge friendships for the kids and make those lasting memories throughout school. I worry about wearing the right things and then get angry that I’m caring so I put my paint clothes on, stick my hair in a pencil and scoop my kid up in my arms at his door.
And another baby? I can’t answer this one simply, there is no answer for this. Only longing. On so many levels. But the period at the end of this sentence is No.
And it reminded me, this morning, that as I’m looking for inspiration and mentorship of mothers who’ve gone before me – that they had to go through this same thing. That the rhythm of a home becomes one of ebb and flow. The morning tidal wave of excitement and flurry to get dressed and ready. Bags and homework flying in the air as we pack and eat and brush our hair. Scurry to find the shoes, watch the clock, drink your orange juice. Kiss, pray, hug – good bye.
The calm of the day, the silent in it’s serenity. Laundry, dinner, grocery shopping. Coffee with a friend, bible studies, volunteer committees. Phone calls, bills, appointments. Shopping, preparing, social life projecting. Work work working. Writing, photography, building.
The weather map for the afternoon usually looks different every day, but it’s generally a readjustment. The kids are exhausted and they need space to sink into what they learned, to remember their conversations and jokes and all about the book their reading. Or the field trip or the concert they’re preparing for.
I’m very ready to get my kids by the end of the day, to see them and hear them. To smell their heads and hug them. I want them. And we pile into the car where the bickering might start or the conversation might finally begin and magic can happen in the 7 minutes we spend commuting from school to home, where the glass pond structure of the clean house becomes a wake of solemn skiing, knee boarding and tubing.
They burst out of their backpacks and leave shoes all over the house, head bands and important papers. Colored pictures and notes from friends, left over’s from their lunches and new requests for a snack. We explode in this calm little house after a day away. Dinner prep and mess, music and dancing, bike riding and friendship building … bed time stories and baths and brushing our teeth.
We got to bed full and happy, although getting there can sometimes be more of a tornado than an afternoon on an all-sports lake. But we get there, every night.
And in the morning – the tidal wave builds again and before it collapses we climb up and ride it.
And it’s finally starting to sink in.