Crayons in the backpack, lunchbox dangling behind, dressed and combed two hours early…
Today, today my baby traipsed off to first grade. She’s sparkly and eager; ready to walk to school with the brothers and eat lunch in the vast cafeteria. Summer swept by too quickly and I wish we’d had more time to swim, play Uno and sleep under the stars.
In a classic Freudian slip I neglected to register her at the school until just days ago. Part of me hoped that they wouldn’t have room; she’d just have to stay at home. Mopping the floor won’t be the same without her chattering beside me and I’ll miss her little hand in mine at the grocery and the post office.
I’m on the cusp of one of motherhood’s great milestones and it’s not at all what I thought. When my children were tiny, I imagined this season with vast stretches of unmarked canvas to ply and paint with my own ambitions. But I see little free time at all.
This week will be consumed with back-to-school paperwork, my mother’s birthday and moving Ben down to BYU. I anticipate playing catch-up for the rest of the month on the housecleaning, photo shoots, emails, errands, ironing basket etc. that have been pushed aside for months.
After that? Well, I’m on duty from 7-9 a.m. and then 2:30 to 10 p.m.– in the five point five hours in between I hope to grocery shop (and maybe plan meals more than two hours in advance), volunteer at the school, become a better Young Women’s President, maintain the house and yard– and hopefully squeeze in a little time for photos and writing. I’ll try to stick to my 20 year habit of waking at 5:30 to run or lift weights at the gym, because I fear that if I sleep in and try to work out later I’ll never get out of my gym clothes.
Once upon a time I was an organized, tidy, pulled-together momma. My soup cans were alphabetized, beds were made every day and when baby Xander took a nap I sat down to practice the piano. When he was two I began filling out applications for graduate programs and anticipating “the next stage.” And then came Gabriel and Mary. My life spun wildly, crazily out of control– never to land and settle in that neat structured land again– and for me, that was exactly the way it was supposed to be.
I honor my friends who are back to school and paychecks; I know they’ve made the right decision for their family and that this is the right choice for mine.
I’m looking forward to long drives down to BYU just to deliver cookie dough, navigating high school dating with Stefan (have you seen that boy? do you think there is any way for him to avoid girl drama?), planning homemade Halloween costumes with the little ones and afternoons making applesauce. We’ll be studying spelling words, driving to dance, soccer and viola lessons and procuring plastic fish for an ocean diorama.
I hope to take some time to grieve.
And if my new schedule allows me an occasional afternoon napping on the couch with a new book and hot chocolate at my side-