Fourteen years ago, our youngest kid started school. She was four and I was a ball of conflicting emotions — excited for her and sad for myself. I wasn’t sad because I would miss her during the day, that feeling was overridden by knowing that she was where she wanted, and needed, to be. I was sad because I knew, from that moment on, our lives were intertwined with a school calendar.
I was a stay-at-home mom. The paychecks were non-existent and I struggled with self-worth, but there were perks aplenty and a flexible schedule was one of them. However, when pre-kindergarten began, our year was scheduled by the school district, not me.
No more trips for a couple weeks to visit my family in April or October, no more outings to parks that were void of school-age kids, and no more spontaneous adventures for our band of three just because it was Thursday.
Life is about change, right? I realized that I could focus on her 3-year-old brother’s energy and interests with one-on-one time that he and I had never had before. Life was changed, but it was a good change for all of us.
When he started school a couple years later, and when the surprise third child started six years after that, the transition was smooth.
Change is good! School schedules create order!
Insert montage of our family life with sappy music here: Going to school in unison, all three of them home for winter break, spring break, and the long summer break. Repeat 13 more times.
Until this year.
This school year, the older two went off to college in reverse order: second born first, first born second and third born was excited to finally be the “only child.” We missed them, but the energy in the house was different. We only did one load of laundry a day, ran the dishwasher every other day, and had a much smaller grocery bill.
My parental brain accepted “college” as a sufficient location and I felt I only needed to keep track of our youngest son. Our fairly quiet, three-person household became the norm. I liked the new norm.
Then it was spring break, and I made a big mistake.
I never planned for it.
I never even thought about it at all other than, “Bekah will be home for a week, Luke will be home for the following week and there will be one weekend when all three kids are sleeping under the same roof.”
That was it. No planning for how their energies, their moods, their routines, their comings and goings would affect our new norm. I didn’t plan for how much time they would sleep, how loud the house would get, and how much food they would eat.
I didn’t plan to realize how much I had missed them.
I won’t lie, the weekend that they were all together was a loud a cacophony of mixed energies and voices. The introverted daughter desperate for quiet alone time, the extroverted son filling every room with his high energy and booming voice, the only child not an only any longer. There was door slamming and fighting and not enough happy family time for my taste.
The week that the two boys were home for their shared spring break reminded me how much like puppies they are, both when they get along and when they clash. Active. Physical. Stinky. Loving. Affectionate. Adorable.
Through the noise and the fighting, the thrice emptied refrigerator, the daily dishwasher cycle and the multi-laundry load days, I was grateful for the school calendar that threw us all together again. I was content knowing that we all where we wanted, and needed, to be.
Susan Vollenweider lives in the Northland. To listen to the women’s history and historical media podcasts that she co-hosts or to read more of her writing visit www.thehistorychicks.com or www.susanvollenweider.com.