I Smiled Today

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I woke up before 7am today. With a smile on my face. Today was the first day of school.

My kids and I, we’ve had a good run.  Our summer was full with daily trips to the pool, weekly movie dates, a venture to the California beaches with Grandma and Grandpa, seventeen hours in the car for our annual road trip to WY, fishing, hiking, biking and PLENTY of “I’m bored” time. Like I said, we had a good run, but I was ready for them to go.  I was ready for my space, some peace and quiet and a house that stays clean longer than fifteen minutes.

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I got up with my smile and made them pancakes with raspberries and whipped cream, took the obligatory back-to-school pictures in the driveway and headed to school with them. My 7th grader road off alone while the girls and I trailed behind;  my 4th grader still wanted me to walk her to the playground.  After I dropped her off I joined the group of Moms and Dads gawking from the sidelines. Recognizing some friends I commented on how the first day of school had finally come! And then I said out loud “it’s like Christmas for adults” (a phrase coined by my MIL  who attained sainthood by raising FIVE kids over a span of 30+ years). Inevitably when you say something like that someone always pipes up and says how they miss their kids and laments the seven hour school day.  In today’s case that voice was only in my head, the same voice that is constantly pointing out my faults and telling me what a good mother should do.

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Later while vacuuming I pondered why we (or maybe its just me) look at those women who adore their kids and bemoan the return of school and feel guilty that we rejoice about school and the exodus of the children from our home. Who made this standard that the definition of a good and loving mother means we have to want to be with our kids all the time and enjoy it 90% of the time (let’s be realistic, no one can enjoy kids ALL the time)? Why can’t we admire and look up to the mothers who enjoy their kids some of the time (and love them 90% of the time) but have a healthy sense of self independent from their role as mom? Mothers who like time away from their children to pursue hobbies and interests that have nothing to do with parenting….even if its just surfing the web uninterrupted!

I know there are other women who feel like this, but we hide in plain view with big smiles on our faces and whisper snarky comments to our neighbors because it doesn’t seem socially appropriate to admit how much you like time away from the children you intentionally brought into the world.

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Me, I’m rewriting my internal definition of a good mother. To me she is someone who loves her children (and mostly likes them too) and isn’t afraid to define herself beyond Mother. She enjoys (even relishes) time away from her brood to explore things that interest only her (good books and small coffee shops).

This Friday I will wake up early again and with a smile because my youngest will begin preschool.  I will have two and a half hours to myself three times a week and I will enjoy every minute of it.  More importantly, I won’t feel guilty about enjoying it…and maybe I won’t be afraid to share that.

4 Responses to “I Smiled Today”

  1. karin says:

    I am sad for school to start. I enjoy staying up late and sleeping in and night (when it is actually dark) swims and trips to Bedford Snoball when the kids should be in bed. I know pretty soon we will be waking up early and have homework and soccer practice/games and cub scouts and my big helpers will be busy with those things. But it will be nice to do little kid things while the big boys are at school and not visiting teaching with all 6 kids will be really nice :)

  2. Amber says:

    Well written!

  3. Jilly says:

    I think you are right on track. A pet peeve of mine are the parents that complain about their kids being home the second summer starts, put them in a gazillion camps (not parents that do it out of necessity due to work schedules), and start a countdown to school starting up again. OF COURSE schedules are good, school is good, distance and independence for us all is good. But I question those parents who seriously wish school was year round and, well, don’t seem to really even like their kids.

    I don’t think there are many out there like that, but I know a couple families like that. I love my kids, really enjoy and like them, too, but by the end of August, when our school starts, I’m pretty sure we are all ready for it to begin!

  4. Kelly says:

    I agree! I love my children. I work from home two days of the week so I can be, at the very least, in the same room as my kids. I do look forward to my three days at the office when I can really concentrate on my work and not have to deal with the distractions they bring. School is a mixed blessing. I’m not as good with the regimented schedule so I can get a little overwhelmed trying to mix my scheduled with theirs, but I like the quieter time for me – and the more social time for them. I bet there are summer days when they are sick of me, too! I also agree with Jilly. I know of those families too, quick to complain about their kids one day into any sort of school holiday. I try not to complain because I know how fleeting this time is, and even the bad has some sort of good to come of it.

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