My five-year mission as a stay-at-home mom is winding down. My only child has started kindergarten, and after dropping him off in the morning and wiping away the tears (my tears, not his), I'm just . . . me. I have time to think some actual thoughts that don't involve goldfish crackers or Paw Patrol, like, "Do I go back to what I was doing before? Do I want to start a new career? Should I begin scrapbooking?" The only problem with these child-free thoughts is that I don't want to think them. I'm not liking this change at all.
With my son now at school, these long days are making me feel like less of a mom, which, in turn, is making me feel like less of a person.
Kindergarten has rocked my world of expectations. Out of the two of us, I expected my son to have the more difficult transition into a full day of school, but it's his mother that's having a rough go of it. This is clearly due to all of this newfound "me time" that I'm not enjoying as much as I feel like I should. Ironically, I can clearly recall days where I would have given my right arm in order to just pee alone. Now, I have whole days to myself, and they overwhelm me.
"When he starts kindergarten, he's gone," I confided to my mom, "That went by so fast." "It always does," was her all-knowing response.
I waited a long time to be a mother, and I'm so fortunate that I was given the opportunity to be a stay-at-home mom. Now, I'm not ready to let it go. More to the point: I'm not ready to let him go. Kindergarten has been a showstopper. My son is now on his path to becoming a true independent kid (as he should be), but it's a heart-dropping reminder that my job criteria is shifting. I loved my job the way it was. But with my son now at school, these long days are making me feel like less of a mom, which, in turn, is making me feel like less of a person.
Maybe if I took the time to answer all of these big girl questions that are popping up, I'd see things differently. I'd start to feel like a woman with a new purpose instead of a person who used to be a full-time mom. Maybe I want to try my hand at a new career? Maybe I want to go back to school and learn some cool stuff? Does my son's kindergarten have any openings? (I'm kidding . . . sort of.) But giving any of these life-changing questions concrete answers will only serve to remind me that my life is indeed changing. Kindergarten is taking my little guy further from me, and there's a sadness in this that I wasn't expecting. I've never been good with change — counting it or otherwise. I miss being my kid's full-time mother.
Since I keep avoiding these very questions, I may not be ready to answer them. Not yet, anyway. I know I can't avoid them forever, because change is happening whether I want it to or not. While I'm waiting to get used to my new part-time mom position, I look forward to picking up my 5-year-old from school and talking to him about his day. I look forward to being his mother. I cherish these parenting moments even more because I can sense how fleeting they truly are. This is where I'm beginning to find a balance between my two selves.
Perhaps the change I need to embrace is closer than that elusive quarter stuck between our couch cushions: maybe I'm not less of myself when my son is away, perhaps I'm just more of myself when he is near.