02 February 2011

A (bittersweet) taste of freedom.

Today was truly a test.  And by test, I really mean a nail-biting, gas-producing, check the phone every 5 minutes whopper of a test.  Today was the first day I was going to leave my son at preschool past the normal pick-up time.  He was going to be there a whole 5+ hours!  Mind you, this was the PERFECT situation.  He was staying in the same room.  I packed his favorite lunch (dinosaur shaped pb&j is always a hit).  My favorite teacher was going to be watching him.  There were only 5 other kids staying.  I say again...PERFECT. 

So what was the test, you ask?  It wasn't a test for him.  It was for ME.  What was I going to do for ALL.THAT.TIME?  I have been a stay-at-home mom for almost 9 years.  9 years.  Yes, we have done a weekend away from them here or there.  I go out with the girls on occasion.  I no longer have them attached at the hip. (Insert shout out to my sister-in-law, Sarah, here).  But this was different.  This time, I wasn't going to a movie with friends.  I wasn't on a trip to watch my beloved Illini football team in the Rose Bowl.  I wasn't spending an afternoon shopping for clothes.  I was going to be home...alone.

I just so happened to have a brunch to attend, which took care of 2 hours.  But, now what?  I have dreamed of this day for YEARS!   Those dreams have ranged from several hours in a row of sipping coffee and reading books at Barnes and Noble to meeting old friends for a long lunch (and, of course, wine).  So, I started slow.  I called an old friend and had a nice middle-of-the week chat.  I kept the ball rolling and sent my sister-in-law a few (dozen) texts.  Then I really got into it and stopped and got my husband the razor blade refills I kept forgetting to pick up (and why do those have to be SO expensive, I ask?).  Just when I was hitting my stride, I unexpectedly ran into a good friend in the drug store parking lot.  

We chatted for a few minutes, and when she realized I was alone she asked, "What are you doing? Where are your kids?"  Trying not to do my best Sammy Hagar kick and run around the parking lot in circles, I explained that I was alone.  Both kids were at school. "This is what my life will be like in August when everyone is in school full time!"  She smiled, but it was a half-smile.  She shrugged her shoulders and said, "What I wouldn't give to have all of mine little and home with me again.  Now, it's just me and the dog." 

I think you could actually hear the air deflate out of my lungs.  She went on to say how her youngest had left to go back to college today and her husband was on yet another government sponsored vacation, so it was literally just "her and the dog."  How depressing is that?  I started to rethink things then and there.

My life for the last 9 years has been all about them.  Feed them.  Diaper them.  Dress them.  Heal them.  Teach them.  Tickle them.  Play with them.  Read with them.  And the truth is, I have loved every minute of it (ok, not every SINGLE minute, but you get my drift).  These kids are the reason I am who I am.  They make me laugh, they make me feel needed, they are my shopping buddies, they keep me company during deployments and they teach me to be more patient (they teach their dad that too, by the way).

Don't get me wrong, I still plan on enjoying my alone time with friends or volunteering at school without a toddler pulling paper out of the teacher mailboxes.  I still can't fathom a time when my children won't be in my house.  It seems like ages from now, but I know it's not.  And I know it will be here before I know it.  So from now on if you run in to me in the drug store parking lot, my Sammy Hagar kick may not be as high.  I may only do one lap around the parking lot instead of two. I have to be careful, you know.  I wouldn't want to injure myself and not be able to take care of the dog.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

1. You moved and didn't tell me.
2. I have NEVER seen this Sammy Hagar kick and that distresses me more than #1.
3. You would feel better about this if we lived closer to one another and you could take care of your nephew. ;)
4. Word on the razors.
5. You're awesome.