It’s 7:06 a.m. and the house is quiet. I have 9 hours until the bus returns to drop her back off.
As often as I have pleaded for quiet in this house, now I just look around with a sense of sadness and a feeling similar to a pair of solar eclipse glasses: obsolete. There are 50 things that I could be doing on my list for the day. Instead, I’m just staring around the house wondering when it was that my child grew up.
Wasn’t it just yesterday that I was feeling her strong kicks in my tummy or she was crawling around on the ground, hopelessly dependent on me for everything? Now she is this strong, independent, beautiful, young lady. Without so much as a tear, she climbed onto the bus and waved through the window with as much confidence as an Olympian taking the gold.
The house is not empty though. Nor am I at a loss for things to “do.” Here’s what I am “doing” and what the house is filled with currently.
Back to School Day 1
Step 1: Let every worst case scenario flood into my mind. “Will she have an accident at school? Is she going to make any friends? Are kids going to make fun of her? What if her teacher has too many kids in class and she feels ignored?”
Step 2: Start to load the washing machine. Be overcome with emotion since it is mostly her dirty clothes from all the fun we’ve had playing these past 2 months while she was home every day.
Step 3: Realize the inevitable “something” that I forgot to put into her backpack. Use it as an excuse to drive to her school. Be told by the front office staff that they will take it to her and that it’s not necessary for me to hand deliver this item with the smiley Post-it note that I created. “Yes, Bunny. They saw right through your ruse. You should just get back into your car and go home. Your child is fine without you.”
Step 4: Turn on the TV for distraction. Realize it is on her channel and I’ve just created another pile of tears because I miss her. Also, sprinkle on some guilt that I’m even considering watching TV as I know I have things to do.
Step 5: Text my loving spouse about my feelings and how much I miss my baby. He is sure to be experiencing the same feelings right? Who better to empathize? BIG MISTAKE. At least my frustration with him has momentarily replaced the feelings of missing my child.
Step 6: Check the clock. It must be almost time for the bus to drop her off. It’s now…7:46 a.m. UGH!
If this sounds like your day, let me propose an alternative. I’ll preface this with the fact that there is nothing wrong with a day like the one listed above. However, if you are up for a day 2 without all the tears or aimless wandering, try this agenda on for size.
Back to School Day 2
The night before: While putting your kid to sleep, share with them that you have a special school day surprise tomorrow.
The morning of: At breakfast, share a “mommy/daddy and me” gift such as a matching big/little bracelet set, keychain set (one for their backpack/one for your keys), or shoelace charm. These tokens represent that while you are apart, you are still on each other’s minds.
After the bus: Have your activity #1 all planned out. Maybe it is a nice warm bubble bath, a conference call, your second cup of coffee, an exercise class, or brunch with a friend before work. Life only moves in one direction and it’s best if we plan on moving with it.
Midday: Write a note to your child to let them know what you were thinking about that day while they were at school. Maybe even take a selfie so when you ask that inevitable question of “What did you do today?” you have photographic evidence of your response in case they want an answer as well.
Before the bus arrives: Lay out a snack that you can prepare together as soon as he or she comes in the house. Wash hands and then start this activity. It will help conversation flow. And it gives them a chance to transition home with some structure but also fun and nutrition. Their bodies are adjusting to the new school meal schedule.
The bus arrives: BIG HUGS and all is right in the world again.
Just think, only 9 more months until SUMMER!