I had every intention of blogging once a week, but our summer passed by in a flash. We visited my in-laws in Montana for a couple of weeks, but most of our time was spent here on the Coastside. Long stretches of lazy days at home, punctuated by one- or two-day adventures to nearby towns, were what filled our calendar. A.J. and Sasha enjoyed lots of time with friends, taking advantage of unscheduled days for spontaneous playdates. They did spend a couple of weeks at various half-day camps, but most of their time was free. And while I often ground my teeth, wishing for more structure, I also loved not having to be any particular place at any particular time...
/cue jarring record scratch/
Until, all too suddenly, summer vacation came to a screeching halt. I spent Monday and Tuesday of this week making what can only be described as frantic preparations: weeding out clothes that no longer fit, shopping for pants without holes in the knees, cleaning out backpacks (the horror! if I hadn't procrastinated, I would have just burned those suckers and bought new ones), procuring school supplies (oh Target, Black Abyss of Howling Misery, how I despise thee), planning meals, figuring out schedules, and generally freaking out. Somehow I managed to get everything together, and when I collapsed into bed last night, I felt (more or less) ready to face the new school year.
I will confess that this morning arrived a little too early, that some of us were more than slightly cranky, that my big plan to walk to school was greeted with a fair bit of grumbling. But once we headed out the door, into the unaccustomed sunshine, our hearts lifted. The walk itself passed quickly—with occasional breaks for petting cats and counting snails—and by the time we reached school, we were all excited to greet old friends and meet new teachers.
I had expected a tearful good-bye from six-year-old Sasha, who can be a bit shy and anxious about new situations, but the only one of us who cried was me. As I watched my first-grader and fourth-grader stride confidently into their new classrooms, I exchanged wobbly smiles with the other parents, all of us marveling over how big our babies had grown, seemingly overnight.
Wasn't it just yesterday that they were babies? Don't get me wrong, you couldn't pay me enough to go back to the days of diapering and the nights of not-enough sleep, but there are parts of it I miss. Cuddles, breastfeeding, that sweet baby-head smell, chubby little thighs, high-pitched giggles, outstretched starfish hands…couldn't it have lasted a tiny bit longer? Or at the very least, couldn't summertime have lasted a tiny bit longer?
As I walked briskly back home, I wiped away my tears. It will be wonderful to have some time to myself, I thought. Time to run errands, time to organize and clean our house—and, most importantly, time to work. I am grateful for some child-free space in my life, I need that space to feel like my own self instead of just A.J.'s and Sasha's mom. That's not to say I don't love being A.J.'s and Sasha's mom—it's the most rewarding job I've ever had—I'm just much better at it when I'm able to carve out space and time to be my own self, too.
Happy first day of school, all. May this year bring you not only what you desire, but also what you need.