Thursday, May 24, 2012
The End of School and the Weepy Mom
I'm turning into one of those moms, those weepy, sappy moms. And I'm not the only one. Yesterday, as I watched my daughter's kindergarten graduation, trying to swallow the lump in my throat that I didn't have with the other two, I looked over at another mom whose eyes were watering, too. She said, "I don't know what's wrong with me! I have 4 kids and I've just been a mess this year!"
I knew what she meant.
I didn't used to be this way. I was the mom who happily put her kids on the bus in the morning and enjoyed a few hours of freedom. Who secretly dreaded the beginning of summer because that meant 2 months of "Mom! I'm bored!" Who, when asked by a school secretary after she dropped her middle child off at kindergarten for the first time, "Are you so sad to see him go?" replied, "I'm a single mom so any steps towards my child's independence...I'm on board."
And I am. Or was. Until yesterday.
I feel like this a milestone year. My oldest will be starting middle school in the fall which is a huge transition and I just can't believe I'm old enough to have a daughter no longer in elementary school (although if you ask me, I will swear I'm 28 and that she is gifted and was accelerated). My son will be going into 3rd grade which means he'll be switching schools (in our neighborhood, K-2nd go to one school and 3rd-5th to another) and going to the big kid school. And my youngest, my baby, will be starting 1st grade and going to school full-time for the first time.
If you had asked me at the beginning of this school year (or even in the middle) I would have told you that I couldn't wait for next year. All three kids in school, full-time, 5 days a week - I haven't had that much freedom in 10 years. I won't have to work around complicated schedules to get work done, go to networking events that I've wanted to participate in for years, or struggle to find time to get a haircut. On paper, this should be an exciting time for me. But right now, when I think about putting all 3 of my kids on a bus in the fall, only one feeling washes over me.
In two months, I will officially have "me" time, something that I've always wanted, but I guess since it always seemed so far away, never thought I would have. As any mother knows, it's taken forever to get to this point and it was also here in the blink of an eye. All of those years of living my life in 2 hour increments because someone had to be picked up or dropped off for half-day preschool or kindergarten. All of these years of feeling guilty when I worked and feeling guilty when I didn't are pretty much over. And those years of curling up with a little person in the morning after I'd put her siblings on a bus, just so we could have a little time to be lazy and watch a movie...
This revelation comes at an emotional time for me anyway. I'm closing in on 5 years of my husband being gone and, for me, nothing makes me think about change more than the growth and development of our kids, mainly because it's a reminder of the passage of time. How much he has missed and how much we have missed him. I know that he's been gone for 5 years, but it's not the "5 years" part that's hard. It's all of the changes we've been through. Three weeks after he died, I was putting his oldest daughter on the bus for 1st grade. And now she's in middle school. Middle school. And he hasn't been here for any of it.
I know that this transition is something I will probably think about and deal with all summer. And then, when the time comes, I'll put them all on the bus to their various locations, wave good-bye, and go into my quiet house. As with all things in life, I will get used to this change.
Widow Chick (aka, Catherine Tidd) is the owner of www.theWiddahood.com and the author of the upcoming memoir Confessions of a Mediocre Widow (Jan. 2014). She is also a writer for The Denver Post's Mile High Mamas and a contributor to several books on grief and renewal.