Liberation Day

Yesterday was the first day of school and I’m not gonna lie — I couldn’t push my kids out the door fast enough. Don’t get me wrong. I love the sweet darlings, and we had a great summer of hiking, swimming, road tripping and summer day camping. But after 10 weeks (yes, 10 — the Calgary flood robbed us of four whole days of school) of no structure, “Mommy, watch this!” and bedtimes pushed past 9 p.m., this mommy was ready for a return to sweet routine.

Bennett and Avery were super excited about their first day of school.

Bennett and Avery were super excited about their first day of school.

I was especially excited because this year Bennett is in grade 1 at Renfrew. Translation: full days. I load him on the bus at 8 a.m. and usher him back into the house at 4:30 p.m. I half expect him to head for the Dad chair, ask for the evening paper and order a Manhattan, but today he only said, “I’m hungry,” before devouring a Larabar and a peach.

Bennett boards his bus all smiles on the first day of school.

Bennett boards his bus all smiles on the first day of school.

Full days aren’t new for Avery, so she barely waved goodbye before lining up by the school door with the other grade 3 kids. As soon as she entered the building I skipped back home whistling Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah. Then I locked the dog into her kennel, popped the cork on a bottle of Moet and cheersed myself repeatedly.

Piper is growing up even faster than Avery!

Piper is growing up even faster than Avery!

Is it wrong to feel so euphoric about the children entering this new phase of full day institutionalization? Should I feel sad they are getting bigger and growing up? That there’s less time for free play with them, and more time for me-play? Translation: I can actually compose an e-mail without interruption, and I have long swaths of time for writing stories.

Some of the moms at Avery’s school have mixed emotions about their kids starting full days. They’re giddy about the new freedom while simultaneously grieving the loss of the littleness. And I get it. During particularly sweet moments I often wish I could just freeze time. I think, “I want them to be eight and five forever!” But then they grow and learn more and I’m glad for it because it means we can do more as a family and have better conversations and it just makes life easier for everyone. What’s more, my kids love school. They are as ready to return as I am for them to go back. As I wrote in a previous post, being a parent is, at its core, an act of letting go.

So yesterday, I let go. I waved goodbye, watched the bus drive away, and did a little happy dance. (Full days, people!)

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