Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Back to soon?

My boys are back at school.

I wasn't ready for this!

We've had such a wonderful summer of long, lazy mornings at home and sunny afternoons outside and all-day family field trips. It was so special to spend two whole months hanging out playing with my amazing little boys. I can't believe it's all over already! Where did the time go?

And now they're back to school.

For my eldest, this means Grade Four - a classroom on the second floor, a locker to share with his best friend, extra responsibilities like helping out in the kindergarten yard, and the opportunity to play intramural sports. He's already planning to try out for cross country, volleyball, and track. The morning drop-off for my extroverted little social butterfly went something like this: found out class assignment from administrative table; ran into seventeen friends en route to said class; "What class are you in? Yesssss me too!"; found new class; "Hi I'm _" to new teacher; "Bye Mom" already navigating between desks and negotiating seating arrangements with friends. Me: "Bye baby, have a good day..." from the doorway, arm making an awkward switch from the expected hug to a wave as Eldest son was already on the other side of the room. How did my baby get so big?

For my middle child, this means Grade Two - a classroom outside the shared Primary pod, more independent options for recess activities, and helping a kindergarten Reading Buddy learn to read. My shy little guy was a lot more nervous on the first day of school than his big brother: nervous about his new class, nervous about his new teacher, nervous about which friends would be in his class, nervous about being back at school and away from this summer's safe, cozy little world of home and Mommy and brothers. There were a few tears and there was a little clinging. But once I finally extracted myself from his grip and left him in line, determinedly not looking over my shoulder, he was just fine - at the end of the day he was full of smiles and stories about his new classroom and teacher and friends and pushing me to organize playdates.

For my youngest and I, this meant a big shift in our days from the super fun constant activity but slight insanity of summer days with three kids at home on top of one another to six quiet hours alone together every day. Poor little guy's really going to miss having his brothers to play with all day - he absolutely worships them, and Mommy simply isn't as much fun. But it does mean he'll get more individual attention and one-on-one time with Mom, so I'm sure he'll be just fine. And the start of another school year means he's one year closer to starting school himself - only two more years until he's off for his first day of kindergarten (gasp!)

And for me - I'm in a bit of a strange place at the moment, caught between desperately wanting to keep my little boys little forever and not missing a single moment of their childhood but craving a little bit of an identity of my own outside "Mommy" and some alone time and independence for my husband and I. My girlfriends are just starting families, having their first or second baby, maybe just sending their eldest off to kindergarten - it's a very different headspace, there are different priorities and plans. My eldest is only a few years away from being old enough to babysit. With no more children in the plans, we can look toward things like big vacations and retirement with definite plans.

Back-to-school time means that I'm heartbroken that my boys are that little bit older and more grown-up now, but also the relief of having a little more free time to get my work done and make plans for the future. Back-to-school time means thinking about returning to work and what that would mean for our family - finances, daycare, a new vehicle, family time, extra-curricular activity coordination.

My little boys are growing up, and I couldn't be prouder of the people they've become - but it kills me that this time with them as little ones is creeping to a close. My babies will always be my babies - but they won't be babies anymore. And that just breaks my heart.

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