I never thought this day would come.
It’s barely 7:10 AM, and it’s eerily quiet. He is just staring at me wondering what’s next. He follows me from room to room like a shadow. He plays a little, but quickly realizes it’s not as much fun alone. He talks non-stop. He asks when they’re coming home. Where they are. When we will get them. And every time our mini dachshund barks, he thinks they’ve finally arrived.
He’s the last one.
The one that’s hardly gotten my attention, but now has it all. The one that will have more one-on-one time with Mom than all the others combined. The one that is used to rolling with the big kids, but now finds himself without their guidance for most of the day. Lucky and unlucky at the same time.
Officially my sidekick for the next 3 years.
Since that sweltering August day in 2005 when my second was born, I’ve always had more than one. Multiples. A close-in-age gaggle. My hands full. Both arms taken. But now that my third is in kindergarten, I find myself in an interesting situation for me – I have only one kid for most of the day. Sure, come 3:00, life is back to “normal” and the noise, chaos, and frenzy are back at the highest decibel, but for the better part of the weekdays, it’s just us.
And it seems as if I’ve forgotten what you do with with just one kid.
I haven’t seen calm like this since 2004 when I just had one little baby. That was the calm before the storm, I now realize. I’ve been frantic for so long – it’s part of my identity. Always rushing, blitzing, running, begging, bribing. Always worried that the baby won’t nap, won’t nurse, won’t sleep on schedule. Always carrying two kids at once with a close eye on another. Always dividing and conquering.
But now I find myself lighter from 7:30-3:00 (geez, my double jogging stroller is weightless with just one passenger – it’s barely a workout!). Not only do I have only one child, but he’s THREE. That’s practically an adult! I listen when he talks. We talk. We have conversations. A LOT of conversations. Uninterrupted conversations. In fact, he WON’T STOP TALKING. Sometimes I think I need a playmate for him, but the thought of having another three-year-old at the house is the opposite of feeling lighter. It feels very, very heavy in fact. Like too much of a workout.
And now that I have one entire arm FREE, I’m feeling a little off balance. I daydream about the things I could accomplish (but still can’t manage to) – a mom could rule this country with one free arm, right? Well, I’m happy with finally being able to carry a Starbucks again.
We suffer from a little bit of boredom (again, what do you with just ONE?), and I am dreading the preschool orientation because I am now that old mom who has 75% of her kids in big school. But, I am now seeing some opportunities to reverse the guilt every parent has with their youngest – you know, that guilt that comes with knowing you’ll never be able to give the others as much as attention as you did the first time?
Get this. We stopped at the fire station the other day to check out the trucks just because we can (and I didn’t know what to do with the 10 minutes we had free). We stopped to get frozen yogurt out of the blue because we can (goodness, it’s waaaaaay cheaper with just one!!). I actually read him books in the middle of the day because we can (and because I felt like he finally needed to read a book for once in his life – GUILT!). We hit Chick-fil-A like it’s our job because, well, we can (but no way was he allowed on the playground ‘cuz I’m not getting in there to help – that’s what siblings are for). There’s no gaggle to bring in and out. There aren’t a thousand different opinions chiming in. The only meltdowns come from him, and it’s usually when he realizes his siblings are still not home (and usually end when he starts watching TV AGAIN and destroying his brothers’ Lego sets).
It’s an adjustment for both of us, no doubt about it. We look at each other quite often and wonder, “What do we do now?” He and I have always relied on the others to be the playmates, but now we are each other’s best friends. It’s like a dress rehearsal for the big production – you know, the one where everyone else goes to college and it’s just us left (gulp!)?
Yep, he’s most definitely my sidekick for three more years. Until he goes to kindergarten, and I officially check myself into therapy knowing It’s over…because what does a mom actually do with TWO empty hands from 7:30 am -3:00 pm (I mean, besides rule the world)?
Is anyone else going through a big transition as the kids head back to school??