While Jason will be driving them to school most days, as his office is nearby and his work hours begin about the same time, I drove them in on the first day to help them find their classrooms and settle in. As I finally pushed Levi's stroller back to the van, unaccompanied by any of my other children, I found myself surprisingly emotional. While I don't have the typical fears that many mothers do for their wee ones when they send them off to the first day of first grade, I still found myself grieving. After all, I usually enjoy spending time with my children, which is one of the reasons I wanted to home school in the first place. For the last ten and a half years, I have had them with me for most of the hours of my day, not only during school sessions, but also at the grocery store, post office, while having tea at a friend's, or on business trips.
Not anxious to go home to a quiet house, I decided to take my mother's mail out to their place (we share a post box, which is a long story and had a good reason for it initially, but now that they actually live in the Peace Country, it is a bit of a drive to make sure we both get our mail in a timely manner--my mother and stepfather live about thirty minutes away.) As I left town, the memory of Noah asking to listen to music in the van, which he always did almost immediately after I turned the key in the ignition, imposed itself on my brain. Sometimes I would say no, not wanting to listen to children's music or have the kids argue or complain about what we listen to (they all prefer different CDs, of course), but sometimes yes. I came to the sudden realization that I could listen to whatever I wanted, and no one would say a peep about it.
So I didn't listen to anything. A sentimental tear trickled down my cheek, instead.
Levi fell asleep in the van on the way out, so while he snoozed, my mom and I shared a cup of tea, talked over the challenges that our climate has presented to our gardens this year while we inspected her crops, and more. By the time I left, my spirits had reached a more buoyant level, Levi was awake, and by the time I got home it was nearly the lunch hour. The rest of the day seemed to fly by, and before I knew it, my other three boys were walking up the driveway with stories about their new teachers, new school, new classmates, and a ravenous appetite. (They are last off the bus at 4:40--oh, does that bring flashbacks to my own bus-riding days.)
The next three days were just as full of activity for me, but by Thursday, I was able to actually get started on my "to-do" list. (Blogging has been on that list all week, but obviously not as high as some of the other items it contained!) Beautiful Indian summer temperatures approaching 30 degrees Celsius meant I got work done both outside and inside.
Levi is much easier to keep occupied outside. Our yard is large and open, and I can see him nearly anywhere in it, no matter where I am. He loves watching the chickens in their various enclosures, or chasing the four-week-old chicks with their mama scolding furiously, or climbing on his little slide, or playing with his trucks, or chasing the cats, or cuddling with Sunshine, our Golden Retriever (who thoroughly enjoys it, too.) As a consequence, I was able to make progress on gardening, mowing, cleaning out the chicken coop, and organizing our SeaCan.
In the hot afternoons, we hung out inside. Despite the loads of work I have waiting for me in my office, I found it tricky to make time for it, and am hoping to have better luck carving time out of my schedule to get my butt into my office chair this week. Without anyone else in the house, when I am in the office, Levi is either unsupervised in the main area of the house (a bad idea, as he loves to redecorate with dirt from my plants or torment the new kitty we have in the house at the moment, or do various and sundry other activities he knows he is not allowed to do), or he hangs his arms over the baby gate to the office and whines at me for attention, which is way too distracting to actually accomplish anything over.
So, instead, I began the changeover of our living space from a "school room" to a dedicated "living/dining room."
Something else novel--when you have ALL your kids home ALL the time, it seems as though the house is ALWAYS messy. While it is nearly always more work and energy to train your children to clean up after themselves, and have them do household chores to contribute to general cleaning maintenance, we considered the short-term pain worth the long-term gain of training our children. Not to mention, I simply did not have the time or energy to do all the cleaning myself. Thankfully, a combination of lowering the standards for what I expected and not having done all the cleaning work myself allowed for much less frustration at the constant re-cluttering and re-dirtying of everything.
BUT! Now that I am here by myself most of the day, not having to spend so much of my energy with cooking two full meals a day (lunch and supper), and cleaning up after at least one of them myself (lunch), with only one pint-sized boy whose messes are easily tidied in about 30 seconds (most of the time), I felt a sudden nesting urge. In only two days, the general level of order increased about ten-fold--at least, during daytime hours. I am looking forward to increasing that exponentially in the next week.
And all the flurry of cleaning and organizing activity helps me to forget, sometimes, how quiet it is in the house.
So, changes are happening, and most of them for the good. Supper and snacks now get more of my attention and creativity, and has already resulted in healthier eating. Yay! And I am also getting to enjoy some time outside, which too often got put off as the last thing to do on my list, right down there with exercising. Now, I am combining them in my work activities.
And, for the first time, I actually get to play with my baby instead of just care for him.
It might take me a while to feel like this changeover is complete, and get me "back in the groove", but I know it will happen. And, sentimentality aside, I know it's a good thing.
Happy September, friends!