Back to School with no regrets

So here’s the rub.  I’m writing this at 11:30 Monday morning which means I technically haven’t seen the kids after they’ve completed day 1.  Some might consider this an obstacle to writing about the beginning of a new school year, but not me.  No sir.  Full steam ahead, that’s what I say.

I hear tell there are moms who feel a little, well, down on the first day of school.  Their house is too quiet, they miss their youngsters, the days seem to be slipping by far too quickly.  Bee’s advice for me when our second kiddo went to kindergarten?  Don’t go home.  Plan an outing for the morning so I wouldn’t sit on my couch and drown in the absence of noise.  Go get a coffee, go to brunch, go shopping with friends, but for the love of all things holy don’t go home.

What did I do?  I went home.

And here’s where I admit my deep dark secret, the one I’ve hidden for six years now.  I sat down on my couch, looked around…and I was fine.

Sure, I thought about the kids some throughout the day and I was ready to hear about everything when the school bus pulled up, but was I lost in the silence of a house without children?  Did I think longingly back on pre-school days with our naps and outings and snacks together?  Well…no.  No, I didn’t.

There was a lot of guilt associated with that, too.  This time of year there are so many posts popping up on Facebook with loving moms missing their kids as they head back to school…moms who wish they had just a few more weeks of summer together before losing their kids for the day.  (And if you’re one of those moms, that’s great.  I mean, I don’t want you to sit around feeling sad or anything, but it comes from love so cool beans.)  I used to read those posts and wonder what’s wrong with me?  If I love my kids, shouldn’t I be sad when school starts?

Until I pulled myself together and got a grip.

I do love my kids.  Love them to pieces, even if it’s way deep down because they’re bugging the bejeebers out of me.  But I’ve talked with a lot of moms over the years – women who stay home with their kids, women who return to their careers after maternity leave, women who stay home for a few years then go back to work once their kids are in school full time – and they all have their reasons.

So why wouldn’t my feelings about the school year also be okay?

I choose to stay at home, and we’re greatly blessed that I’m able to make that choice.  As much as I might enjoy punching up the humorous aspects of parenting (and there are plenty of moments around here that benefit greatly from a view through my snarky lens), I like being with my kids.  At the same time, I know I’m a better mom when I have time to myself.  I’ve heard plenty of women say they’re better moms because of their careers, so why do I feel guilty for saying I’m a better mom when I have those school hours without them?

Because somewhere along the way I joined the June Cleaver club.  I got sucked into the idea that good stay-at-home moms want their kids by their side 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Being happy when the kids went back to school?  No, no, no, that’s just plain wrong.

Well, I’m taking my feelings back.  If women know that continuing their careers makes them better mothers, then I can feel the time I have without my kids does the same for me.

It may not be the most popular parenting theory, but it works in my world.

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8 thoughts on “Back to School with no regrets

  1. I think it’s important to have that me time, that ‘not mummy’ time, to feel like you again.
    Some will get that from being at work, being an ‘adult surrounded by adults’ rather that mummy, and acting either childlike or like an authoritarian.
    Some get that from their time away from their kids, indulging in whatever they would like to do.
    Either way, it’s healthy to have yesterday away time!
    Enjoy it!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Ritu. This has been so true for me — homework time, sibling squabbles, being present for them if there was a problem at school — my me is so much less frazzled than by the end of a long summer day. I know people tell me I’ll miss them when they move out, and I’m sure that’s true…but I’ll also be glad I was less snappish around them while they were here. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree. I’ve never felt guilty about time alone in the house. I went to school, didn’t I? Isn’t that about the most universal element of childhood?

    I went back to work this summer, with the intention of continuing to work into infinity. The right opportunity presented itself and I took it. It’s been an adjustment, some negotiation with transportation and whatnot, but I love my work and I do believe when mama’s happy it shows. I was happy at home for a long, long time, and it showed 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • The guilt wasn’t really there until someone I knew (full time working mom) commented that a SAHM’s job simply isn’t as hard once her kids go to school full time. I’m pretty sure she needed to work for her family, but I also know she loved her work and didn’t want to give it up. Still…the comment stuck. Suddenly I felt like the spoiled lady eating bon bons while her kids were gone for 7 hours. My fault for getting sucked in in the first place. I’m glad I’ve got a new perspective on the whole thing!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, I faced that for a long, long time. That’s the opinion of MANY people. To lots of people, stay home parents stay home all day while the kids are at school and every day is the weekend.
        I don’t wanna get all up on my high horse, cause I sure could, but NO, every day was not a bloody weekend.
        A lot of these same people talk about if they win the lottery….soooo…

        Liked by 1 person

        • Well, yeah…she made a comment on a Facebook conversation I had going and it turned into a pretty heated thing. (I definitely had a strong opinion, but I expressed it a little more…diplomatically…than another FB friend did. Kind of turned into WWF for a few days there.) There are days and there are DAYS, just like everyone else. I get to the end of almost all of them and still have at least 6 things carrying over to the next, but I just keep telling myself I deserve to block out that writing and sanity saving nap time. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

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