Yesterday was a day that I’d joked about, yearned toward, dreaded and dreamed of at various times over the past 11+ years of being a parent. Back when I was working full-time, it was the magical ‘end of daycare’ day when suddenly the obscene-feeling amounts of money we were paying out for daycare would end and our financial woes would be cured overnight. Since I’ve been unemployed and now working from home, it’s had a different kind of meaning – now I can work more hours and earn more money to eventually get us out of the financial hole we’ve been in for the past several years.
But as I watched all three of my daughters dash off to the bus stop, I realized that it’s a very strange feeling to have all of them gone all day every weekday. It’s kind of – well, lonely. I miss the little rugrats. Ok, so not so little anymore, especially now that Abbi is within only inches of topping my height. But still… They’re my babies. But yet they’re not babies anymore. They’re big grade-school kids, and next year I’ll have a middle schooler even.
Tomorrow will be strange yet again in a different way, as Abbi will get up an hour early to catch the middle/high school bus since she’s signed up for both sixth-grade band and choir this year. She’ll be riding the early bus every day from now on, which means that these past two days of seeing all three girls get on the bus at the same time was a very short-lived thing – but the effect is the same. With Becca in first grade now, my daily calendar has suddenly become very open. Not that I don’t have things to fill it with – my role at Traveling Mom is changing, from Social Media Manager to Director of Operations. Not that there’s really a pay bump there, but the site is growing and that’s so exciting to see. Plus I have lots and lots of posts to write from our recent 3-week long vacation. And now I can expand and take on other clients as well, so there’s opportunity there too. It’s a very cool, very funny feeling. But one that I think I’m going to like.
The first day of school went well – after a slightly rushed start as we weren’t quite into the swing of the new schedule yet. Ok, to be honest it was definitely not one of our better first days, with rain, a knocked-over box of cereal all over the floor, and a slightly mad rush to get everyone out the door on time. Becca forgot to grab her lunch, but luckily I was headed over to meet them at school when they got off the bus, so I just took it with me. Overall, we did fine, and every day it’ll get easier until we’re back in the routine again. Becca’s not used to having to get up and dressed and ready to go right away, but so far she’s done great. She loves school just as much as her big sisters do and it’s exciting to see how happy she is there so far. She had her first homework today and finished it quickly with a smile. I’m hoping she’ll keep loving homework as the years go on, like Hannah does.
Hannah and Becca gave the first day an enthusiastic thumbs-up, while Abbi was a bit more hesitant, finally giving the day a thumb-in-the-middle rating. Sixth grade’s going to be a lot more challenging so I think the jury’s going to be out for a little while yet. Unlike last year she doesn’t have her best friend in her class, so we’ll see. Hannah’s friends are split between her class and the other, but she’s happy to be seeing them all at recess and she likes her teacher, who is the same one she had last year for math and who Abbi had for fourth grade too. This year Hannah will be doing fifth grade math and is again in the gifted IMAGE program which will kick off in a couple of weeks.
I remember back to when Abbi and Hannah were a toddler and baby and we would drive by the local elementary schools thinking, wow someday we’ll send these little girls off there but that seems so far away – so many long years before they’ll be ready for that. Even when Abbi finally did go off to kindergarten, I had another toddler at home then and couldn’t imagine Becca ever being big enough to join her sisters in riding that big yellow bus off to school.
I know it’s a cliché that time goes by so quickly when your kids are young – but it’s one with much truth to it. Every year I take the obligatory back-to-school pictures of the girls and every year I marvel at how much they’ve grown since the previous year’s photos. Someday they’ll be too old to pose willingly for me out on the front porch. At that point I’ll likely have to resort to threats and/or bribery like I did to get Hannah to smile for me at her desk (so I would leave the classroom more quickly) yesterday morning.
Hey, a mom does what she has to and when it comes to first-day-of-school pictures, all bets are off. After all, someday these photos and memories are all I’ll have to remember these busy, hectic days of their childhoods by.