Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Times My Soul Broke, September 14th, 2017

2:19pm In the car getting coffee on the way to pick up L at school
R “Mama, you know you are a mean mama.  I going to kill you.  This ring is The Eye…he going to kill you!”

M “Well, I should hope not.  If the Eye kills me then there will be no one to drive the car, and it may crash and you may get hurt, and that would be very bad.”

R “No.  I will drive the car.  And the Eye will still kill you!”

3:21pm In the car on the way to gymnastics practice
L “Mama…when the baby grows up and goes to preschool, do you think you could, you know…get a job?”

M “Well, why are you asking that?”

L “I was just wondering what after care would be like, you know, to have you pick me up after your work, like some of the other kids.”

M ‘Well, when this baby is old enough to go to preschool, I would like to do something where I can write or work from home or a few hours of the day.  But because of your Papa’s schedule I don’t think I would work all day every day, unless we needed me to or an opportunity came up that I really wanted to pursue.  It would be hard to spend time with him if I had that kind of a schedule.”

L “Yeah, I can see that.”

M “But that is an interesting question Lu.  I would like to do something when the baby is in school, something more than…”

L “More than sitting around all day?!”

5:37pm In the family room, the kitchen, the living room
M “Girls, can you please put the pillows back on the couch?  I really don’t want them on the floor since Fiona is coming tomorrow and I don’t want to get go hair all over them.”

L “Sure mama.”

R “No! I wanna lie on the floor on the pillow!”

M “Riley, please put that pillow back on the couch.  I don’t want to get dog hair all over the pillows and then have them get dog hair onto Kellyn and Fiona when they sit there.”

Cue battle royale in which R starts crying hysterically, vowing to never let go of the pillow, that she needs that pillow on the floor, no other pillow will do.  Clearly she is working through some other emotions here, using this situation as a proxy.  I try to let her work through them while keeping the pillow off of the floor, for the afore mentioned reasons.  I am thus an evil and mean mama.  She walked through several rooms of the house carrying the pillow, before abandoning it on the living room couch and telling me I could put it away now.  After about 30 minutes.

Monday, August 21, 2017

First Day of Full Day Preschool

Today is R’s first day of preschool.  Full day preschool.  Seven full hours, Don at work, alone to do whatever I want or need.

I do not feel like breaking open the champagne and pouring a mimosa, or planning a three cocktail lunch with my girlfriends.  But I sure didn’t cry in the car as I drove away!  I do feel a sense, not of loss, but of contentment.  

When we would tell people that R was starting full day preschool this year, there was the inevitable question that followed, always to me “Ooohhh….what are you going to do with all your free time?”  Some people who were stay at home parents got it, and would answer “Oh, don’t worry.  You won’t be sitting around staring at walls.  You will be doing the same stuff you do every day — taking care of everyone and everything.  This time you just get to do it without someone begging you for a snack every five minutes!”  To other people I would joke and answer “Haha, probably wander around my house crying for twenty minutes and then get back to work!” That is code for “I don’t know, probably everything I usually do in a day but without the fun dress up games and dance parties every twenty minutes.”

In reality I just did not think about it too much.  Life is busy, it gets as busy as you let it get, and I was sure I wouldn’t be left with hour long stretches of daytime TV dramas and bonbons.  

So I walked R into her preschool today, got her lunch and backpack and nap mat and water bottle and supplies sorted, gave her a hug, and then walked back out to my car.  I didn’t sit in my car and tear up (well, I was blowing my nose every five seconds, but that is due to the summer cold from hell, not an excess of emotion).  I had spent all of my preschool drop off emotions on her last Spring when she went to half day preschool for the first time.  This time I was just so thankful there was no screaming, crying, begging, hitting, or kicking.  I got to give my preschooler a kiss and a hug goodbye instead of prying a honey badger off of my body, handing her to a teacher and fleeing the room like a criminal.  

You may think I am exaggerating.  I am not.  It was bad.  Really bad.  Don was in Haiti for ten days on a surgical trip, and had been working a lot in the last few weeks.  I had been stressed helping him get ready for the trip in the aftermath of our December fundraiser and Christmas.  Everyone had all of the emotions.  

Honey badger at drop off because she didn't want to go to preschool.  Cue feelings of parental guilt — maybe I am sending her too early, maybe I should keep her home with me, does she really need to socialize this early, shouldn’t I just be better at planning things and teaching her myself?!  Honey badger at preschool pick up because she didn't want to leave and come home with me.  Cue second round of parental guilt, along with some deep seated personal insecurities thrown in for good measure — I should have worked with her more on better ways to express her emotions, she is having a tantrum because I should keep her home so she can nap during the day, everyone is watching my adorable little daughter hit me in the face with her fist, its ok other parents with emotionally stable children, everything is cool, nothing to see here!

I cried on the way home or running errands after I would drop her off.  I cried on the way to pick up L from her school after picking R up fro preschool.  I cried midway through the day just thinking about going back to preschool to drop her off or pick her up the next day.  I cried all the tears all the time.  I was emotionally eviscerated for a good two to three months.  

To be very clear, no teacher or parent ever said ANYTHING that made me feel bad.  Everyone else was very supportive.  The head of the preschool would take R from my arms when she would start to scream at drop off and say “Just go Mom, don’t you worry.  This happens all the time.  I will call you in ten minutes and let you know that she is calmed down and doing fine.”  And she would.  Sometimes other parents would offer to carry R’s backpack to the car as I carried her, kicking and screaming and trying to hit me in the face.  Everyone else was awesome.  It’s always the demons in your head that are the loudest.  

So today’s drop off was not big and emotional because I had seven full hours in the day to myself.  It was calm and unemotional.  Which was glorious.  I don't feel like celebrating.  I don't feel like crying.  I just want to get started on my giant to do list, watch 85% of a solar eclipse without burning my retinas, and pick up my girls at 3pm.

Now you can peruse all of the first day of school pictures.  Cry.  Or don't.  Whatever.

L, first day of preschool, 2013
L, first day of preschool, 2014

L and R, L's first day of Kindergarten, 2015

L and R, L's first day of 1st Grade, 2016
L and R, R's first day of half-day preschool, January 2017

L and R, L's first day of 2nd Grade, 2017

L and R, R's first day of full-day preschool, 2017

R, line leader for the day, huge mosquito bite by her eye, 2017