Absolute freedom…at least until 3:47 when the bus comes back

Today was the first day of the rest of my life.

I have been a stay at home mother for more than 12 years. I have play dated and play doughed and played babysitter and nurse maid and every single other motherish role on the planet. I have first breakfasted and second breakfasted and snack timed and cranked out lunches, I have made more boxes of mac-n-cheese and microwaved more hot dogs than I care to admit. I’ve sucked down diet coke like my life depended on it and folded the same pair of stained neighborhood undies that somehow keeps getting worn despite my efforts to put them in the give-back box.

I have had a decade of sewing and quilting and nursing and weaning and sippy cupping and laundry laundry laundry and…you get the idea. It’s been wildly monotonous.

This morning I dropped my little almost-five-year-old off to the world’s most incredible kindergarten teacher and let me tell you, that child didn’t even look back. The moment she stepped through that door my name was Mud.

We didn’t shed a single tear between the two of us.

Maybe it’s the little devil on my shoulder winning out today but I kind of wanted to kick my heels all the way to the car.

I suppose this sounds callus. I know that not every mom is gifted with the chance to spend the first five years with her babies before putting them into The Institution. I have been so very blessed and it’s been so very hard. I guess that’s why the blessings have felt so potent, because they came at a hard won price.

There have been moments when I’ve felt like nothing more than a prisoner to nap schedules and tantrums. I have discovered that I do, in fact, have some crazy in me and it’s not buried quite as deeply as I used to think. I thought I was a pretty great person until kid number three hit the scene and I lost control of my life. But I wouldn’t give up a second of it, even the bad moments. Oh the pep talks I would give myself heading into the store with a four-year-old in the back of the cart, a two-year-old in the front of the cart and a newborn strapped to my chest.

We didn’t always make it to the check out stand.

Today I went to the grocery store alone…twice. There was no one waiting anxiously at home for my return, no hurried race to finish my list and get back before it all went to heck in the family room, no mess being made and mostly there was no one tagging along and begging for a treat. I was so delighted that we bought ourself a little something just to celebrate.

I did, however, seriously miscalculate how long the kids would be gone. In my mind it was going to be long enough to put up 10 pints of strawberry jam, 18 pints of pressure cooked chicken, five loads of laundry, start a quilt, iron seven shirts, work out at the gym, hit Sam’s Club and Smith’s, and reorganize my master bathroom.

I finished the chicken and have four loads of laundry to fold.

But what a marvelous day I had. Knowing that I did my part with my babies and that Georgia couldn’t be happier to move into this next phase of her life gives me a feeling of tranquility and peace. I feel like it’s okay for me to let this happen, to be joyful about it and not regret and not feel guilt and not act like I should miss having my littles around me 24/7.

As mothers, we need to give ourselves permission to move right along in life with our children. They stretch and we stretch. They grow and we grow. They get more independent and likewise, so do we. It’s circle of life kind of thing, this putting kids on the bus.

To all the mothers out there who are still in round one, stick it out because when it’s done it’s so darn done. There’s still loads of parenting to be had, noses to wipe and lunches to make, but it’s different. More intense but not as constant.

There is one downside: less hugging. I will miss all the hugging and kissing that comes with chubby cheeks.

Of course, I just got hired on as a substitute for the school district because, you know, I can’t really leave them alone. Someone’s got to keep an eye on The Institution.