today is the first day of preschool for my two year old. yes, you read that right, my two year old is heading to school twice a week. if sending your little one off to school is not your thing, that is fine. i get it. but i'm still sending mine off. no judgement.
this day also marks the first time in eleven years that i will have a morning to myself. e - l - e - v - e - n years. eleven years of chasing toddlers, changing diapers, dragging unhappy kids through target, planning playdates, avoiding kid-unfriendly environments. eleven years of planning my days around nap times and hungry times. eleven years of carrying a diaper and wipes with me everywhere i go. eleven years.
when i decided to be a stay-at-home mom with my first born, i really didn't know what i was signing up for. i never dreamed we would have five kids. sometimes it's a good thing that we can't see the future. eleven years is a big pill to swallow when you take it all at once. thankfully i only had to handle one day at a time and i made it. i made it through eleven years.
now for the first time in my mommy life, i will have two mornings to myself. i have had so many people make comments to me regarding this time that i feel like some blanket responses may be in order. these may sound hostile or snippy but that is not my intent. it is merely the truth for me. take it or leave it.
what those mornings are not:
- they are not a long amount of time. by the time i allow for drop off and pick up, we are talking about three hours twice a week. i totally appreciate the break and how nice those six hours will be but, come on, its not like i've just been handed a lifetime trip to the bahamas. it's six hours, people. let's keep it in perspective. i'm hoping to get to use the bathroom without someone asking me if i need help wiping.
- they are not a reason to look for an added job. no, i'm not going to go find another workplace. no, i will not be itching to re-enter the 9-5 corporate workforce. i work plenty. besides the mommy gig, i already have enough jobs. maybe, just maybe i'll be able to write a blog post without someone pulling on my leg or climbing on my lap while striking random keys on the computer. i think i work plenty. these six hours can count for the 11 years of lunch breaks that i never took.
- they are not anything that requires a report...to anyone. i have had so many people ask me what i am going to do with all my free time. all six hours of it? i have no idea. seriously, i've waited eleven years to have some time to myself. I don't know what i'm going to do for those hours. maybe i'll read a book. maybe i'll take a shower. frankly, i may sit in my pajamas and stare at the wall in silence. i may go back to sleep. i may watch reality tv. i may go exercise. i may go to the grocery store alone. who knows? i've waited eleven years to get to pick my own activities based on what i want to do, on my own schedule, on my own time, for six hours a week. the fact is that i really don't owe anyone an explanation of how i spend that precious time. i think i may have earned the right to decide without question.
- they are not something i will feel guilty about. i have worked my butt off for eleven years. i will still be working my butt off for another 16 years...at least. the fact that i will have six hours a week to myself does not mean that i will be working any less than i was before. it does mean, however, that for the first time in over a decade, i will get a little break. i will get to remember what it is like to think about myself on occasion. i will get to remember what things i love to do, and actually get a chance to do them. i will have a chance to rediscover what makes me happy, and what makes me thrive. don't get me wrong. i adore my kids, but so much of my life involves serving other people that i often take a back seat. it is a privilege to be the mom of five great kids but i am not going to feel guilty about having a few brief hours each week to take care of me. it is, quite frankly, about time.
- they are not a chance for me to do what you want me to do. i have had people tell me, "well, once school starts you can volunteer in the classroom." or "once school starts you'll have plenty of time to get to that email response i've been waiting for." no. just...no. i have not been waiting for eleven years to spend my time doing something extra for someone else. i have not been waiting eleven years to fill up those few hours with more activities to serve others. until i get adjusted to my new normal and have plenty of time to enjoy some quality "me" time, my answer is just going to be "no." without guilt, absolutely not.
- they are not a time to work feverishly on chores. don't get me wrong. i will get things done. it may just have to wait, however, for a few weeks to pass by before i sacrifice some of my time to clean house. let's face it...house cleaning can be done while the kids are home. showering alone and shaving both legs on the same day...not so much. i plan on relishing every moment without children home to do everything i have not been able to do for eleven years. once i'm tired of partying alone, i may decide to clean a bathroom. we shall see. i wouldn't expect that to happen for a while.
what those mornings are:
- mine. that's it. they are mine. there are very few things in my life that belong solely to me. my home is shared with six other wonderful people. my time is stretched to the breaking point to try to meet the needs of five kids and a husband. our money is spent meeting the needs of others. my bed is shared with my husband and (let's be real) with kids who sneak in to cuddle or watch tv. my life is full of people and i wouldn't have it any other way. i love my kids and my husband. i love my life. still, it has not been without sacrifice. love involves sacrifice. it doesn't work without it. still, when it comes down to it, i could use a break. i thrive during alone time. i get recharged. i love having a moment when, instead of thinking of the needs of others, i get to ask myself, "what would you like to do?" as mothers, how often does that really happen? it's a rare thing indeed. so i am going to relish my six hours a week. i'm going to squander that time and enjoy every spare moment of it. i'm going to enjoy spending moments with just me. maybe i'm selfish. maybe i'm wise. regardless, the choices for those six hours are mine. i'm going to enjoy some solitude...and i'm going to be a better friend, wife and mommy for it.