I imagined how it would go down more ways than I can count. I spent the week before with a pained jaw, a pit in my stomach, and a headache. Would I have mimosas with friends after the drop off? Would I hit the gym, relishing my child free morning? Perhaps spend the day writing? Surely, when this is your first truly child free day in almost nine years, you should do something momentous, right?
They let you walk them in on the first day. All the kids line up next to their room number as music plays on the speaker and the Assistant Principal calls each room in to the building. The big kids go in on their own, but the Kindergarten kids get to have their parents come with them. And so we walk, hand in hand up the cement stairs, through the metal double doors, and down the hallway. We walk into her room and find her cubby. Her backpack, lunchbox, and sweater find their home and she quickly finds her spot on the rug, next to another little girl who shares her first name. The teacher tells the kids what fun they will have and assures the parents she will take good care of them. The kids are then allowed to get up and give one last hug. All the kids run to their moms, dads, and grandparents. All but mine. I motion to her, begging her to act sad. She hugs me and looks up smiling. “I’m gonna rock it, Mama.”
I stop at Target on the way home. I look through the bargain bins and then gather a few supplies for dinner. I think I’m supposed to want to walk through the store, aisle by aisle, without any children with me, but instead of being drawn to whatever it is that tempts us, I watch the moms with their kiddos and wish mine were with me.
I go home and find myself curled up with a dark chocolate salted caramel bar and the Newsroom streaming on Amazon. And that is Day One.
Day Two I go to a long put off doctor appointment and clean the kitchen. I have another piece of my dark chocolate and one more episode of the Newsroom. Day Two.
Day Three I go to the gym after drop off, go to another appointment, stop at Trader Joe’s, and listen to the Newsroom as I put away groceries. I kick myself that I am out of chocolate. This is the end of Day Three.
Tomorrow is Day Four. I have work to do that can’t be put off. There are emails to be sent and lesson plans to go out. I want to spend tomorrow and all the days to follow missing my baby, but she is doing what she was made to do. She’s growing and learning and blossoming in ways I can’t even imagine yet. And perhaps it’s my time too.