I love September. I have always loved the beginning of the school year. New books, new clothes, new teachers and catching up with old friends. Remember sharing a pack of smokes in the high school parking lot? (I hope my kids don't read this.)
I love Fall. It's my favourite time of the year. I am in my glee when the leaves start to turn orange, red, brown and yellow. There is nothing better than a walk on a cool, brisk Fall day through the park. Running through my husband's fresh stack of Fall leaves like a woman off her Prozac.
Except for this year.
This year September and Fall sucks. I cannot seem to get my Fall groove into action, and I know why. This is my son's last year of high school and my daughter's first year of junior high. It feels like the Mom Club has issued me my "Notice of Lay-off" pink slip. My days of complete control over my children are slowly slipping away and I was just getting good at it!
I got a taste of this a few years ago when my step-son finished high school and joined the Navy. It was a great relief when he picked a career but it was hard to see him go. I really miss him supper time when I see his empty chair at the table. I miss his crazy sense of humour. My favourite was when hubby gained a little weight around the middle and son pointed it out to him. Hubby protested that he had not gained weight. Son says, "Oh ya. If you were standing on a beach and there were a pack of whales in the water, they would all stand up and start singing 'We are Family.’” It made me snort milk out my nose.
God knows when I first became a mother I did not know what I was doing. It took years to get a good system in place. I got to practice on my step-son. All I had to do was play with him all weekend and send him back to his Mom on Sunday. It wasn't hard at all. No fighting about homework, or temper tantrums. Just feed him McDonalds and pack up his bag. He made it look so easy I decided, "Sure lets have one." Then I realized, there's no one coming on Sunday to pick this one up.
Now, 16 years later I have a good feel for the job. If either kid filled out a "Customer Feed-Back" card I am pretty sure I'd be kept on and may even get a little raise on the next pay cheque.
Other mothers warn you not to wish your time away when you have a baby but the first few years have such a steep learning curb. It seems like just yesterday I learned how to use a Diaper Genie. I still gag thinking about that long line of poopy sausages and the smell that burnt my eyes. It's hard not to think "I can't wait for you to grow up!"
It seems like last night I wrote the date of my son's first smile in his baby book, the next day he was climbing down the side of the crib. Then he learned to tie his shoes and now he's going to finish high school! What the hell?
I could have sworn just yesterday I bought my daughter the most beautiful pink frilly dress for her first birthday. Then her first tooth came in. Then she lost it. Then she hated dresses. Then she liked them again. Then she hated them again. Then she dyed her hair black, became a tweenager and started junior high. I should send out an Amber Alert! The dingos stole my babies!
I am in a complete panic. Hubby is already taking measurements to see if a hot tub will fit into my son's room. Every chance I get I tell him, "Don't feel pressured to move out" or "You should live home while you're going to university, it would be cheaper." Hubby is praying our son chooses to join the military because he wants to use the RESPs for a European cruise. Every chance I get I have my arms wrapped around him saying, "My baby is growing too fast! Stop it."
I can't let go. I am going to have a complete and utter break-down if he chooses to go to university on the mainland. Then God-bless my daughter because all my craziness will be focused on her!
I understand the term "Retirement." I work for thirty years. I retire and take a pension. That's life. But I didn't know your could retire from being a mom. My life revolves around being a mother! I have gone to great lengths to make sure my kids have an amazing childhood. You should drive by my house on Christmas or Halloween. People actually stop and take pictures of their kids on my lawn (My own kids are too embarrassed to do that anymore.) My week nights consist of driving to and from music lessons, cadets, dance, etc. I should be issued a chauffer's hat.
I have worked hard to instill a sense of family in our kids. One strict rule I have kept since the beginning is everyone eats supper at the supper table and there's no TV, cell phones or any type of electronics allowed at my table. Violating that rule could have dire consequences. I cook a big Sunday supper every week complete with special Sunday dishes. I have always raised my kids as "a team" as-well-as individuals. I make them pick up for one another and to respect each other. When my son says "She's being a pain!" I am quick to respond with, "That's my daughter you're talking about. You better watch your mouth!" As a result, they bicker like brothers and sisters but they also love and respect each other. We're a team! Teams don't grow up and go away!
Now when I think of me and hubby sitting by ourselves at the supper table with a small Sunday chicken the waterworks start flowing! What do we talk about if the kids are gone? It's all we know. I can't bare the thought of the kids moving out. How do I become a long-distance-mom? Can I phone my son at military school and ask him if he remembered to brush his teeth before going to bed? Will he remember to separate his whites and darks on laundry day? Will he know that there is a laundry day? Will he eat a vegetable every night if I am not there to supervise? Will his commanding officer cut up his potato for him and put butter on it before it gets too cold? He can't live without me!
I can only imagine after a year of living on the mainland by himself he'll come home 30 pounds lighter, suffering from scurvy, with underwear that have been reduced to just a thick line of elastic around his waist, his teeth falling out from decay and his whites all gray or pink. He'll beg us to let him come home and ask me to take over again and of course I will. I am his Mother damn it. I will live my son's life for him. It's the least I could do. I will fatten him up with tablespoons of butter on his potatoes and carrots, wash his dirty clothes and put them away, make sure he brushes and flosses and then I will find him the perfect girl to marry. That's what good mothers do!
At least that's how it plays out in my mind.
There's still hope for me. My daughter wants to be a Pop star. So she may be home for a while. I may even let her stay a little longer after high school if she grows out of this moody tween stage. She may even let me buy her a nice pink frilly prom dress.
It's scary becoming a new mom but it's even scarier when you realize your days are numbered. I have always believed that the greatest gift you can give a kid is their independence. We raise them to be good people who love themselves and the world around them. We basically work ourselves out of the greatest job on earth.
Luckily I will always have my forth child... hubby. He will never grow up and leave me. He doesn’t know where his socks are without me. It only took twenty years but at least I have him toilet trained now.
The week, months and years fly by, but damn it, the days are long!