September’s here—and almost gone. The kids are back at school now, merrily soaking up all the bookish stuff their impressionable little craniums can possibly hold, making friends, making adjustments and making sense of this nonsensical place. And they’re eager—oh-so-eager—to share that brimming cache of newfound information, to enlighten those of us who might not otherwise know that “Infinity’s the biggest number there is, Mommy; but you can’t count that high.” I’ve also been informed that a certain lad attempts to burp at least as many times before the school bell rings. Color me enlightened yet again.
Quite honestly, the best part of my day involves listening to their exciting exploits as first graders. There is a certain richness and innocence to it, and a quality of mystery and intrigue beyond being privy to all-that-is-meaningful and newsworthy to a six-year-old. In the past several weeks, I’ve learned about new additions to the playground. New faces on the bus. Automatic “water spencers” in the restrooms. Sightings of a beloved kindergarten teacher in the hallways. The cafeteria food and its ever-frenzied mass consumption. Usually our discussions take place over something meatloafy or potatoish at the dinner table. My husband chimes in, too, adding yet another element of adventure to the mix. Life as a high school principal is far from dull, I’ve been told; although nothing thus far has topped the Sir Burps-A-Lot blurbage. I doubt that anything will before June.
The highlights of my day, however, often pale in comparison. Tales of wading through Legos and laundry, both in dire need of being restored to their rightful places in the Universe, seem dreadfully uninteresting by contrast. Sprinkle in the vast array of irksome conversations I’ve held with telemarketers, the meltdowns I’ve had over computer difficulties and the countless tirade-like soliloquies I’ve delivered to the Barbies and plastic dinosaurs that reign supreme in this household and you have a rough estimate of just how stimulating my day truly is. The mornings I wrestle with writer’s block or the notion of dusting a piece of furniture or hauling the lost but not forgotten vacuum from the bowels of a closet (many times, just for show) are particularly exhilarating. Add to that my duties as Flip-Flop Finder and it’s hard to imagine I’d ever be bored.
But amidst the tedium I have reclaimed my freedom—that priceless commodity for which I longed all summer. Yes I have. And there is something to be said for that, despite the homework, the crammed-to-capacity after-school calendars and the impossible bedtime routines each school year brings. June, July and August—home 24/7 with my needy charges—serve to remind me that I love autumn. Oh yes I do. Crisp mornings, sun-baked afternoons, soccer games (a new wrinkle this year!) and children (mine especially) boarding that bright and shiny school bus each day are wondrous events. Off they go to the glorious Land of First Grade—situated conveniently near the Land of Kindergarten, to which we all grew so fond just a short time ago.
So for all intents and purposes, I am thrilled with what has transpired in the past month. Euphoric over my current liberated state. Reunited with my marbles—yet again.
But a funny thing happened on the way to October. As I trekked that familiar path, I discovered something quite remarkable—there is bitter amidst the sweet. Indeed, I am torn between feelings of sheer joy and elation over my newly bestowed chunk of non-mommy time and abject woe over the realization that I miss my kids beyond all words and understanding. There. I said it. I’m a guilt-ridden, mawkish piece of milquetoast who ought to remind herself of the times her children drove her to the brink of lunacy and despair—one gray hair at a time. But what I ought to do and what I can do are often two entirely different things.
Truth be told, I want the best of both worlds—to have in my possession unmitigated freedom from mommy duties AND the opportunity to be a mommy to my children at the same time. Unfortunately, that’s not an option in this world. Nor is rewinding September.
Planet Mom: It’s where I live.
Copyright 2007 Melinda L. Wentzel