Two weeks ago I dropped Isaac off at his first full day of preschool. Six, childless hours loomed ahead of me and I stood in my dining-room and cried. What the heck, I thought. I'm supposed to be experiencing pure joy right now. I've been waiting for this day, this exact moment when both kids are happily at school for eight years and yet, I'm crying?
As it turns out, I didn't actually miss my kids. I love them, but I also love handing them over to the proverbial village. I just had no idea what to do with my six hours--it was intimidating. I could be productive and prove that I worked hard during those hours, I could lie in bed and catch up on endless hours of TV, or rent one of the three hundred movies I've missed out on over the past eight years, I could walk the dogs, or read, or knit...I sent an iMessage to my family and said I was confused and didn't know what to do with myself. I was paralyzed in my freedom.
My dad said to take nap...or any of the other aforementioned ideas.
I took a hot bath. Have you ever taken a hot bath during the day? I'm not sure why, but it feels even more luxurious than at night. I think because it's so unusual. Although, I am quite easily entertained so this could all be in head but, I mean, who takes a bath during the day unless they have the flu? Or they're Isabella, who takes baths during the day for fun and literally talks to soap suds (no joke--she is amazing at talking to inanimate objects) for an hour.
I've had a few more days since then to get used to my new routine without the kids. It is heavenly and I feel so blessed by Isaac's preschool teachers. They excitedly offered to learn how to feed him with the g-tube and it has worked out beautifully. Knowing Isaac, we were a little concerned about how he would react with others performing the feeding routine, but he has taken it all in stride. He also uses the potty at school and even pulls up his own underwear and pants--so many accomplishments over the course of one summer!
I do spend a lot of time wondering what moms do all those hours their kids are at school. Half the time I don't even know I do. I'm certainly not going to spend all of those coveted hours cleaning. I usually try to have one cleaning goal to accomplish during those six hours and the rest can be done after school hours when the kids are playing or I want to pretend that I'm actually a productive person in front of them so I have witnesses. It's all about the witnesses, people. Don't squander away those hours on cleaning when no one actually sees you in the act! Thankfully Walter thinks I worked hard if I made the bed. He'll come home and say, "Wow, it looks like you did a lot of hard work today." "Why yes, yes I did. In fact, it takes many steps around the king size bed in order to arrange the blankets just so."
I should mention that Isabella is doing very well in public school. The transition from homeschooling to public school worked out better than we'd hoped. She does tell me that she works harder than anyone else in our family and last week she said that "third grade is less fun than second grade." While there are some things lacking from her education and most definitely things I would do differently, I can tell she is learning and above all else, she is happy. Except when we assign extra work for her and in that case, she falls in a puddle of tears and tells us how mean we are and how "nobody else at school has to do extra work!" Dude, when did I ever convey that we want to be like everyone else?
Back to the main to the main theme of this post. I have a list of what I'd like to accomplish around the house during my 'free' hours, and I also have some research goals and a very long list of books to read and projects to knit and dog training to get done. One step at a time, I tell myself. I know too well that too many goals just sends me into a paralysis otherwise known as, depression. Yes, the 'D' word. I know some of you are cringing--thinking of it as a shameful word not to be spoken, but it's called life, and it's called, chemical imbalance, but more on that another time.
As for right now, I enjoy hugging my kids in the morning (well, not Isaac, he doesn't like hugs, but I try to steal them every once in a while) before they happily run into their respective school buildings and trust me, they do run. Maybe they are just as excited to get way from me as I them. I come home and greet my dogs, who honestly believe I am the most amazing person in the world. And savor a day without doctor or therapy appointments for Isaac, a few less tantrums to deal with, one less g-tube feeding, and one meal without interruptions. Life is good.