Goodbye to letting the kids stay up late because “no school tomorrow!”
Goodbye to spontaneous picnics in the park and juicy watermelon that drips down our chins.
Goodbye to vacation and relaxing and not thinking about work.
This end of summer is even harder for me because I am coming off of one year off taking care of my second child. You could say I have had one long summer of not having to get up as early for work, of not worrying about prepping for tomorrow’s classes (since I teach English). And more importantly, I got to spend this year getting to know this precious person, my son.
Despite the night feedings and groggy mornings, I woke up mostly happy to be spending time with my baby and seeing more of my older daughter in between her school hours. I never really got bored being at home and cherished the one-on-one time with my newborn and just being able to take a sort of sabbatical from work.
Now comes the hard part. This back-to-school season, in addition to my big girl starting her last year of elementary school (!), my eleven-month old has been starting his transition into daycare. I held back the tears as I took him in for the initial thirty minutes, sitting on the gym-style mats with the daycare assistant, telling her about my son’s routine. I then took a walk for the next thirty minutes while he was there on his own. He did fine, though, playing with the other kids and toys.
The next day he stayed for two hours while I took my daughter to the library to distract myself (and her). And then he stayed for three hours and ate lunch with the other kids. Unfortunately he got wise to the concept that mommy was leaving him longer and longer and is now balking and crying when I take him there.
Although I am doing better than I thought with all this change, occasionally I feel a sadness creep in. Just like the other day in church, when we sang a hymn with the words, “be still my soul” and the tears started welling up. My glorious “summer” of bonding and time away from my job is truly ending. Be still my soul, no more endless play days and nursing leisurely (though sometimes non-stop) in front of the telly or with a book. Back to morning traffic and rushed meal prep at night. Be still my soul, less cuddles in the daytime, hello condensed evenings, bedtime stories and go to sleep to do it all again the next day.
I know it is just the way it is and I am lucky to have had this wonderful year to put my life on pause and enjoy my children. I am trying to embrace the change but I keep seeing my son’s little face in my mind, the one I will inevitably see less of from now on.
Because it isn’t just the end of summer, it’s the beginning of the separation. After day care there is pre-school and elementary school for my son. My daughter will be in middle school next year. Things keep changing and I can’t stop it. I gave birth to these miracles and from day one they start their journey to leave me. Be still my soul.
I know I will get through it. I will find my new routine. The hugs when I pick up my son and the chatter from my daughter about her day will fill my soul, will make it still again. It’s just that I have never been so good at goodbyes. But I will give it a try. And summer will come again (next year!), albeit a shorter version.