Yesterday was the first day of my son’s extended summer program. Secretly (and not so secretly) I have been longing for this program to start to give me a break from my very busy three and a half year old. Granted, the school year only ended June 22, but the days have been long, even with a trip to the nation’s capital.
I loaded the double stroller with both kids, my son’s backpack equipped with change of clothes – just in case, even though he is now successfully potty trained – and a snack. We took the eight-minute walk to the school and waited as all the kids gathered. My son, a little clingy, seemed to be excited. He recognized a few people but when he saw his teacher he skipped over to her and held her hand.
I was proud of him. Only a few months ago he cried boarding the bus, and before that I couldn’t peel him away from me when taking him to his former preschool. I told him that his sister and I would be back at 12pm to pick him up. There were no tears. He seemed ok.
Surprisingly, I wasn’t ok. I felt a little awkward at the school where other moms all seemed to know one another and who were familiar with the program as their children had attended previously. As the mothers socialized I stood next to my daughter and watched my son take in his new surroundings.
Having worked full-time up until a few months ago, I’m still getting accustomed to this new way of life as stay at home mom, which is often marked by isolation and loneliness. I fear that I’m doing something wrong when my kids are crying or bored, or that I’m not cut out for staying home with them. At the end of each day I am exhausted, even more so than when I worked.
It occurs to me how hard it must have been initially for my son to leave his family and home, deviate from the comfort of his routine and go to school for the first time. In some ways, these past couple of months have been like the first day of school for me. These are uncharted waters for both of us, and we both have a lot to learn.