Bye Bye Baby

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:15

    The past few nights as I make my last round to check on my three children before dropping into my own state of unconsciousness I find myself pausing a moment to gaze at my sleeping son. This perfectly adorable, little love of my life starts first grade this year and I am overwhelmed by the idea of it. What happened to my toddler? This little boy, my baby whom I nurtured for six years will be in full-time school, away from me, his mother, for seven hours and 15 minutes a day, Monday through Friday. As I quietly stroke his warm, fuzzy, sleeping head I find that my heart is heavy with emotion at the anticipation of the first empty nest experience. Inside my head however, my brain is screaming "Soon I will be free! free! free at last!" All right, I'm not ashamed to admit it; the mere thought of the first day of school makes me giddy with excitement this year. This September will mark my 12th year of child rearing where at least one of my children was home with me. I've put in my time, given my all, completing three tours of duty; successfully I'd like to think. Don't get me wrong, I had fun with these little people, my people. I made the best out of these 12 years and felt fortunate to be home with them. But I'll also say there were many, many times that I felt like I was on their payroll, and way underpaid I might add. I figure I've had hundreds of tea parties, a thousand play dates, countless trips to the park, library classes, play groups, gymnastics, and Mommy and Me classes, when at times I was the only one out of the two of us cooperating. I put snowsuits on and off a dozen times in one day, and did the same with bathing suits. My son and I were weekly regulars at the fast food places which became nothing more than bribery, or as I prefer to think of it, a reward to get my youngest to willingly join me in grocery shopping and other housekeeping errands. I've handled my share of meltdowns and tantrums. I've stood in the pouring rain, subzero temperatures, and sweltering heat waiting for what felt like eternity for my son to get in and out of the car and in and out of the house. He's young, and has no concept of time. "Hurry, hurry we're late" is meaningless to him especially when his main concern at the moment is convincing me that he should wear snow boots to kindergarten in May or bring a sugary treat for snack instead of the cheese crackers I packed and he approved of two hours ago. And so we were late, on many occasions. And if we missed the bus, we tracked it down like seasoned hound dogs, because little boys like to take the bus, its part of the daily kindergarten ritual. I've pulled into a convenience store many times only to find my little passenger sound a sleep in the back seat and sat there in the parking lot debating with myself about whether that gallon of milk is really worth waking him up for. No it wasn't. Never wake a sleeping child my mother always said, they must need the sleep. So close yet so far, so often. I can see the milk through the storefront windows … Oh well, home again. Kindergarten, with its half days, is the most difficult year because you only have three hours, while they're in school, to do everything you need to do. Forget about what you'd like to do! They're smart by now and they know there's a social life beyond mommy's errands and they want to know "Hey what's in this for me?" Thank goodness for dollar stores! The snake charmer for children. By the middle of kindergarten because of his protests, I was feeling so guilty about dragging him around with me that I found myself putting a lot of things on hold. So every morning before school we planned fun things to do and then I ran around like a crazy woman the next three hours getting done what needed to get done. You can't believe how fast three hours goes by. I planned each day, and charted my course like I was finely tuning a rare instrument, with exact precision. I became proficient in time management. I had one goal in mind: not to waste one precious minute, because at 3:15 when that front door opened again I hit the floor running with more kid related activities. In order to get a good running start on those three hours I would often drive to the bus stop and sit; waiting like a seagull waits for a fish, for that first glimpse of yellow turning the corner. " Yes! Here's the bus! Let's go! C'mon. Mommy can't be late today. I love you! Bye!" Well, come this September things are changing for me. I become a new woman, or rather the woman I used to be, providing she didn't get tired of waiting and decide to move out! I begin a new chapter in my life and I am looking forward to it. I have big plans. The first of which is to watch my house stay clean for seven hours! I'm planning to read a book that doesn't have pictures. I will join the gym and get in shape again. I will finally get to organize those closets knowing that the rest of my house is not being systematically taken apart by my kids while I'm at it. I will complete other long overdue projects, uninterrupted, using the entire day if need be. I plan to stay in the bathroom as long as I want to … alone! I am going to the mall and leisurely shop instead of grabbing my size and being horrified at home by what I bought in haste. I'm going to organize my work hours better, no more late, late nights for me unless it includes a cocktail or two (or three!). I'm going to run around town like a gazelle completing, yes I said completing, my errands, minus the backseat debates and six-year-old commentaries. I'm going to get a massage, maybe take a class, just because I can, I'll have the time. I will be in charge of this new chapter of my life. Yes, it will seem strange at first, but I'm ready for the change, the other moms' at the park are beginning to look like teenagers to me. For me it's time to move on. It's my time to take a deep breath and regroup. There will be no more child napping on the tennis court while I play because he is afraid of the nursery ‘warden.' No more little boy missing the bus because he was running back to me to get away from a bumblebee. No more making beds in the morning with that "big lump" in them, waiting to be discovered and tickled. No more morning jogs with him cheering me on from the stroller, "Faster Mom, don't slow down, you can do it!" No more Mommy and Me classes where, for that special time no one else mattered but us. No more priceless conversations while in our ‘jammies' driving older siblings to early band practice and clubs. No more morning walks to the mailbox hand in hand. No more cuddling on the couch on a rainy weekday morning with a cozy little boy and a tattered blanket. No more getting my fill of hugs and kisses throughout the morning. I will now have to wait seven hours and 15 minutes, Monday through Friday … and soon, as fast as these years have gone by, more will quickly follow and an independent young man will emerge most likely embarrassed by those same hugs and kisses. For six years I've inhaled every breath my youngest child has let out, hoping to make mental memories of his first years for myself that will last forever. His smell, his voice, his tiny body, and even his tears are still fresh in my mind. But I wonder, will these memories really last or be replaced by new ones as the years fly by? From the time he could talk he would promise to stay little for me, as if he could really make that choice. His promise was made in vain and the pages have turned, and we are both starting a new chapter, and I will miss that little boy, the love of my life, my baby. I will miss the time that we spent, oh so close together. Good luck David and good luck to me …