My baby started preschool last week. It’s part-time, three days a week, but still, it’s school.
We waited with his sister at the bus stop and then jumped into the car and drove to his school. We ended up behind Sister’s bus for about half of the way, and he waved frantically out the window at her when they turned off the road.
The school was busy when we arrived, with parents and young children up and down the hallway. He was so excited to go into his class that I didn’t even get to take a picture of him by the classroom door. I hugged him and said cheerfully, “Have a great day! Momma will be back in a little bit to come get you.” He barely gave me a second glace…the allure of the magnetic blocks was too great.
Getting back into the car, I could barely contain my excitement. For the first time in almost 8 years, I had a morning all to myself. No whining voices. No sibling squabbles to break up. Quiet. It was like heaven. My only goal was to go to the grocery store and not have to yell, “Stop touching that! Come back over here! Stop running in the store!” 5,642 times.
Motherhood on my own
Because my husband was once in the military, we have lived in several towns over the years, none of which are very close to family. As a result, I’ve pretty much had to learn the ropes of motherhood on my own. When my husband left the Marine Corps, we settled in near one of our old duty stations (again, not near family) so that my husband could work as a civilian in his field. Although we had email and the phone (and now Skype!) with which to connect with our families, it wasn’t the same as having my mother, aunts or cousins with me in person to show me how to be a mother.
I’ve also been with my kids 24/7 since they were born. Yes, we have had a few babysitters every 6 months or so for a random date night, and my husband’s mother and sister traveled here to help when our son was born, but practically speaking, I’ve been with my babies each and every day of their lives. No weekends away, no overnights with grandma. It is a gift that I treasure greatly, however, all moms need a break now and then.
Sally Clarkson says in her book Desperate that mothers need time every now and then to recharge and to build up inside themselves the love and patience that they pour out onto their families. After so many years of giving to my children, I was looking forward to preschool for a few hours a week to myself, in order to recharge a bit.
One thing about motherhood that I wish someone had told me about early on is that it is constantly changing. I remember when I first had my daughter, I was functioning on practically zero sleep, trying desperately to get her to nurse regularly, haphazardly cleaning bits of the house whenever I could grab a few free minutes. I thought my life would be like that forever!
A few months later, things had settled down into a nice pattern….she was taking three naps a day, eating regularly and going to bed early. Then she started dropping naps, and I had to learn the schedule all over again. Add a tiny little boy into the mix, and things got very interesting!
Now those babies are in school and growing up all too fast. While I love to see how they are growing and figuring things out and developing such wonderful personalities, a part of me wishes they were tiny bundles in my arms again.
Picking him up
Two hours later, I drove back to the school, all my errands accomplished. Not only had I checked off everything on my to-do list, but I felt refreshed and upbeat (it’s amazing how much you can get done without the kids!). I was eager to see my boy and find out how much he had enjoyed his first day at school.
I waited outside the classroom door for the teacher to let the kids out one by one. Two names were called, then mine. He ran out the door yelling, “Mommy!” with a big smile on his face.
My heart skipped a beat.
I had to swallow back tears as I gave him a hug.
“How was your day?” “Good!” he gushed.
Suddenly that break didn’t seem so wonderful after all. I just wanted to be with this sweet boy with the big grin. Who cares if he runs around the grocery store anyway?