School is almost here and I am excited! Ecstatic! Over the moon! As I say this, as people see my eyes light up when I tell them the date of our first day of school I can see I am being judged. Some mothers empathize and are in the same boat I am, confetti cannons at the ready. Others, be they old moms, never moms, or new moms look at me with pursed lips and crinkled brows. Some think “You were so looking forward to staying home with your kids and now you can’t wait to get rid of them!” and “Wow, I’ll never be like that!” and “What kind of mom doesn’t enjoy time with her kids?!” while others assume me just plain selfish. Our society cannot comprehend what a SAHM does with kids in school.
So today I would like to say:
I can’t wait for my kids to start school and I am not ashamed of it!
I know this may seem hard to believe, but I was a real live person before I was a mom. I had hopes and dreams and all that other crap. In fact, I still do. I didn’t stop being a woman, a dreamer, a human being just because I had kids. There are things I want to do by myself, things that are important to me, things that are generally unimportant, and things that are just plain selfish. That’s okay! Really, it is.
No one in the world has a job that is 24 hrs/day 7 days/wk with no sick leave, vacation, or mental health days outside of the stay at home parent. Any other occupation and it would be totally unacceptable. Not to mention that you are dependent upon another for any financial needs and you are paid merely in boogers, dandelions, and hugs and kisses. Okay, so maybe those last three aren’t so bad. The point is that it doesn’t stop. There are middle of the night puke patrols. Work doesn’t end after supper or baths or ever! You must always be on your game, always.
Wanting time alone, NEEDING time alone, does not make me a bad mom. In fact, it personally makes me a better one. Without this time I find my fuse running short and my good intentions turning to shit. Giving myself a break each day allows me to get all those non-fun chores done (laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning) and out of the way so that when my kids come home we have the chance to have quality time together. I get to hear about their lives outside of my house and learn new things about them. Things I wouldn’t learn otherwise. There is something about hearing a story told to you by your child that you weren’t present for that lights them up and lets you appreciate and see them in a way you couldn’t otherwise. There is something important in having the time to slow down and listen when they have something to say.
Besides all of that, I am a human being with things to contribute to my society outside of my relationship to my children. I hope for them to be the same and what better way to help them than to show them how that’s done. My goal was to live a more intentional life- that is why I have intentionally chose to send them to school. That is why I look forward to having our day be full of quality time and not just sheer amounts of quantity. Sending them to school also teaches them life lessons I just plain can’t do- how to sit still under someone else’s instruction, how to take correction as well as enjoy the praise that comes from someone other than a parent or relative. There is a large difference between learning from me how to treat your sister vs. learning at school how to work with others- even when they aren’t always kind. They are making bonds with other trusted adults and culturally diverse kids they otherwise wouldn’t meet other than in passing and getting the chance to see other peoples’ “normal”s.
Something I noticed last year was how school challenges my kids in a way I wouldn’t have. Their teachers looked at them for their potential and let them run wild with it. Me, I was too caught up in the idea of things I assumed they wouldn’t be ready for yet that I never thought to push it and perhaps reined them back. My kids are entering first grade a full grade level ahead in reading and math because of their teachers. They wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for their guidance.
Has this time been precious- absolutely! Will there be days I miss them and the quiet seems too heavy- certainly! But despite all the scary things that the thought of public school and growing up bring, there are so many more wonderful opportunities for my children- and for me. I won’t be shamed for rejoicing in it.