It's back to school time, which usually finds me and my husband gleefully singing, "It's the most wonderful time of the year!" to our 8-year-old's supreme annoyance. He gets insulted; we stifle our giggles. And when that glorious second day of school arrives and they head out to the bus stop, I suppress the urge to throw open the back door and in my best Mel Gibson voice yell, "FREEDOM!"
Usually, that is.
This year it's different. In mid-July the week before our vacation, I was desperate for school to start. Even on vacation with three kids I was ready for school to start back. Then we got home and they went to my in-laws for five days and came home and all the sudden my feelings changed. Suddenly I wasn't ready for school to start. There was so much I wanted to do this summer that we didn't do. It suddenly felt like summer wasn't long enough.
For a mother who is known for her lack of sentimentality, I am not sure what is wrong with me. School started yesterday and I am a sniveling mess! I don't know if it is that my oldest is in third grade now, which all of you parents of older elementary students know is a "whole other ballgame." Or if it's that my sweet middle child who still says things like "lickted" instead of "licked" and "crash can" instead of "trash can" is starting first grade, and I know by the end of the year those sweet, sweet words will be gone forever. Or if it's that my just-turned-three-year-old daughter looks at least four and some of my favorite styles are starting to look too babyish on her. Or if, and this is probably the case, it's the unfortunate case that back-to-school collided with hormones for me this week and it has sent me into an emotional tailspin.
Laugh at me if you must, but it is as if I just woke up and realized they are growing up and I am missing it. I am so busy carting children from one activity to another, fixing *somewhat* healthy things for them to eat, throwing them into the bath, and then washing grass-stained clothing, that I am missing their childhood, because I have children! My not-yet-nine-year-old son is only about six inches shorter than I am. Time is not long that I will be taller than all of my children. My six-year-old daughter is becoming this beautiful, social creature who lives a life completely outside of mine during the day and then doesn't really share it all with me when she gets home. And my three-year-old has started saying just this week, mind you, "duh, mom." Don't worry, dear reader, I'm putting Miss Sassafras's attitude on ice, but the point is she is no longer giving me three-year-old attitude; she's trying to give me "big kid" attitude. It's all very disconcerting.
As a mother I am very aware that my ultimate goal is to work myself out of a job. In 18 years, I can only hope that I am not needed for all the things I am now. I want my children to be independent and capable enough to do their own laundry and cook their own *healthy* meals, and go to class on their own and do their homework on their own, and even make money on their own (at least on a part-time basis) and yes, live on their own. But it's all going by so fast. I heard a dad on the radio just yesterday say, "How can the days take so long and the years go by so fast?" I don't know! I just hope (and pray) that I am getting in all the important things -- not just more trips to the zoo or "summer learning," but love and laughter and family and Godly teaching and all those things that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.
Okay, I know I'm a sniveling wreck -- who is now openly crying as I write this -- but it will pass and I will forget to think about it. Instead, I will think of laundry and cheer practice and football games and homework and school forms. But the next time I have a really long day, I'll try to think of how fast the years go by and hold my children close to me and drink them in, if only for a few moments.
*Now go snivel amongst yourselves.*