the first day of school happened for my household this week and, just like that, the house was empty all but one preschooler. this year, for the first year in my life, i wasn't ready. that bus pulled around the corner of our neighborhood and i didn't want to let my kids get on. there were no tears on my part but, for the first time ever, there was some disappointment.
maybe it was the fact that i took two no-kid trips this summer and missed those moments with my kiddos. maybe it was because of the 15 day road trip we took as a family, crammed into an over-crowded SUV, and surrounded with each other's good company. maybe it was that i wasn't physically prepared (can you say night-before school supplies?). maybe i'd just gotten used to them being around. regardless, the house seems eerily quiet.
there are no people to chat about their daily plans. no one is sharing what they read in their latest book. no one is helping to bring down the dirty laundry. no one is really needing anything from me. i know, it sounds like the picture of bliss. i know it sounds ridiculous to wish it otherwise but i'm simply not used to the quiet.
i went from being needed and busy 24 hours a day to having whole chunks of time completely alone. i went from running and managing and scheduling and cleaning and planning every second of every day to having chunks of time when i'm in my house alone. it feels very strange.
maybe this is what happens when your kids get older. the exhaustion of doing everything for your preschool and early elementary kids turns into the companionship of kids as they grow older. i have a friend whose son is a senior in high school and she is incredibly sad to see him head off to college next year. when asked about it, she said, "i really like who he is now and he's about to leave." i think that's how it is supposed to be.
now i evaluate this school year and wonder if i'm just growing to enjoy my kids' company. i'm wondering if i'm just liking who they are more and more as they get older...and i'm also having to start evaluating who i am and what it will be like without them. i'm very aware that time moves much too quickly and my years with each one in my home are numbered. i also know that, ultimately, i'm raising them to leave. that's my job as a parent, right? i'm supposed to raise great kids who will be able to stand on their own two feet without me. that's what seems difficult to process.
even though i know that this is how it is supposed to be, it doesn't seem right somehow. this summer was over too quickly. the school year's beginning that marks another year gone by with my kids came much too fast. they are growing up more rapidly than i can fathom and i'm simply not ready for it all. still, i do know who i am and i know that when they do eventually leave and stand on their own feet, that new phase will be great too. so, today, i'm learning to enjoy the quiet, to love on a preschooler, to greet them all when they get home and to remember how quickly it all goes. this is how it is supposed to be, each year a little bit of letting go. i may not be ready, but they are...and that's what matters.