I have so many thoughts but they are a jumbled mess.
Red finished school at the end of May and didn’t go back until today. We had the longest summer vacation of any of our public school friends. Today he starts grade three and his little brother starts kindergarten. I have had such mixed feelings about school this fall. I enjoyed the summer and it’s free-formness and the simplicity of few commitments; I cherished seeing the boys rediscover their bond. I seriously considered homeschooling this fall. Whereas in California it was not even an option to consider, here in Texas I thought about it a lot. There probably wasn’t a day that went by that I didn’t think about it. I won’t bore you with the growing list of reasons why I thought I should, needless to say that I had built some pretty compelling arguments in the case. Then last week everything changed and I knew I would send them to school. Was that just in exercise in faith, as in, would I be willing if I needed to? Was all that just to prepare me for some time in the future when it will be the right thing to do? I don’t know. All I know is that right now the boys need to be in school. I’m trying not to see it as a sign that I’m not mother enough.
I loved the days sprawling out ahead of us, with only meals and karate to break up our time. I even enjoyed having very few playdates with other children — I haven’t yet found friends for my children and me, compatible enough that playdates are pleasurable for everyone involved. My kids are still adjusting from the upheaval of the spring and weren’t ready to strut their stuff and impress new people. Without the comfort of friends-like-siblings we were happier re-weaving our own bonds than making new friends. It wasn’t until last week that any of us felt the cost of our self-imposed solitude. Finally the boys were ready for others but there were none who fit the bill. I realized that it had been five months since I’d heard the familiar refrains of good parenting that I used as the soundtrack to my own parenting. It wasn’t just emotional connection or the exchange of ideas that made me miss my friends, but the examples of the kind of parent to which I aspired. I had carefully chosen to surround myself with women whom I wished to emulate. I suddenly felt isolated among parents who yell and spank frequently, and who say of breastfeeding, “I know it’s better for the baby, but it’s just not for me.” That’s not to say that everyone I’ve met out here fits that bill, or even that those who do aren’t nice people whom I consider to be my friends, but I felt so alone. The only parenting refrain I could hear came from the barked instructions in karate (which does not constitute good parenting and isn’t even always good pedagogy if you ask me.) I was lost and I was drowning.
This weekend we went to end-of-summer party after end-of-summer party until we couldn’t eat another thing, didn’t care for another pool, and Red even had to empty his stomac in his sleep. Sunday we had brunch, a lovely church service on adapting to change, and a terrific “Hooray for School” meal planned by the boys (but executed by me.) Paul capped off the night with father’s blessings and we all went to bed calm, comforted, and excited for the school year. Even Red, despite his previous anxieties, was all smiles.
Off they went this morning. Both of them too excited to enter their classes to give their parents a proper goodbye. I’m a little lost, but I know that we are all in the right spot this morning.