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.