I Can't Wait for My Kids to Go Back to School
This morning, as I sat at the PTA's aptly named "boo-hoo breakfast" trying to comfort a friend who had just dropped her youngest off at kindergarten, I said the unthinkable: "You're gonna love having them all gone. It's like you get your old life back, but it's even better because now you can appreciate the luxury of showering with the door closed."
Plenty of moms would be appalled by that sentiment (or at leastpretendto be appalled by it). After all, aren't I supposed to cherish every moment with my children? They're only young once and they'll be gone before I know it, leaving me alone in a home devoid of laughter and joy, right? If I really love my kids, shouldn't I be sobbing when my precious littles confidently stride into school with nary a backwards glance?
Not this mom.
Here's a fun fact no one tells you about being a parent: Children don't realize they're not still a part of your body until they're at least three, and even then they'll climb you as if they're trying to get back into the womb. It's cool, it's fine, it's developmentally appropriate. But as an introvert, it drives me crazy. Some moms love the constant closeness and physical affection that newborns and young children require, co-sleeping and baby-wearing to their hearts' content. I don't judge them for their parenting style and even admire their dedication. But that just doesn't work for me. I need my space. I need quiet. I need to think my own thoughts. I need to poop alone. I need to not be needed all. the. time.
That may sound like a lot aboutmyneeds and not enough about what my children need. Moms are supposed to place their family's needs before their own. But what my kids really need is a happy, sane mom. And for me to be the mother they deserve, I've got to have some space.
I need my space. I need quiet. I need to not be needed all. the. time.
With four children at home full-time, summer "vacation" feels very long. I work from home and we can't afford back-to-back day camps, which means we are all together, all the time. By the end of August, I feel like I've got my skin on inside-out and all my nerves are exposed. It gets increasingly harder to be kind and patient, especially with kids who are also totally done with summer break — even if they won't admit it.
Back to school is my salvation. I thrive on schedules, and shopping for school supplies is my favorite kind of shopping (all those color-coded folders — so neat! so organized!). But above all, I love seeing my kids grow into smart, capable, independent people. That's the whole point of parenting, right? So why are moms who count down the days 'til school starts made to feel like we don't love our children?
Idolove my children, with a love more deep and powerful than any feeling I've ever experienced in my life. But I've learned over the years that part of loving them is taking care of their mother — me. When they go back to school, I can feel that tight knot in my chest slowly start to loosen. It's not a vacation for me — I don't go home and eat bon-bons and watch soap operas (or scroll through Instagram) — I still have to work, clean the house, and do the shopping. The difference is I get to do my shopping without four "helpers" sneaking things into my basket. It's glorious.
And that is what I told my friend. Loving your alone time doesn't mean you don't love your children. And trust me when I say that those kindergarten half days go byridiculouslyfast.
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