It’s the last day of summer. Oh, I know that technically summer doesn’t end for another few weeks. But today is the last day before school starts. The last day that I have my youngest child home. The last day of my life that I will have any small child at home with me during the school week.
Molly is more than ready. She’s already asking if she can take the bus. No. Not yet. She may not need to ease into this, but I do. I’ll take her to Mrs. Henry’s class for now. Molly’s only five-years-old. Do we really send our five-year-olds out into the world for thirty-five hour weeks away from home? Apparently we do. That’s what I am going to do first thing tomorrow morning.
Today, though, we had a leisurely breakfast. We did laundry together and cleaned the porch. We played Connect Four and danced in the rain. Well, she danced. I worked and she had a play date with a friend. Next comes the evening dinner, all of us together, as we settle in for the night, clean up and play one more game before reading and bath and bed. Today, it was our life, the life that I’ve had the luxury to give to my children for the past thirteen years.
If I’m honest, though, I’m ready for my kids to go back to school. Even Molly. There have been times over the past month when all three of them need me for something in the same moment. I look at them and a voice in my head screams, “Don’t you all have someplace to be?” Mostly, that voice stays in my head. It’s real, but it’s not the main thing.
The main thing is that I am so grateful to have worked from home. Even when I’m busy on the phone or writing to meet some deadline, I can still break for a lunch together, or to read a book, or to run someone somewhere.
With the last child, the questions are the same as when the older ones went, but they seem to have more weight. She’s the last one. She’s my dream girl. I adore her.
Sometimes, I’m sad that I can’t keep Molly to myself. That I am sending her out into the broad and not-always-benevolent world. Will she be okay? Will she be pummeled? Will she be brave? Will she learn things I’d rather she wouldn’t? Will she pick herself up? Will she do good things?
It helps to know the answers: Yes and yes and yes again.
One of the things that makes parenting bearable is that we, as a species, are so damn resilient. An advantage of having four kids is that sooner or later, you begin to realize that what you do as a parent is only part of the picture. They are who they are. We can help them be that, or we can hinder them. But ultimately, it’s phenomenal how often kids are really okay. Even when life is tough. Even when there’s stuff to deal with. If you love them and pay attention and give them what they need, most of the time, people are okay.
Molly, at five-years-old, has resiliency down. She loves people; she’s curious; she’s kind. Whatever happens, Molly is ready for it. So off she goes.
I’m ready, too.