I love my daughter. I do.
For the last 2.5 months we’ve slept in, snuggled, and kept a frat boy social calendar of “just hanging dude.” We took two vacations that were almost as blissful as they were exhausting. I set up playdates and swimdates, horse camp, and zoo, science center and museum excursions. We played marathon games of Rat-a-Tat-Cat and Uno, Monopoly and Boggle. We caught fireflies in jars and kept them overnight, watching their little butt lights fade by morning and releasing them to what was probably sudden death. We rode bikes and scootered, snorkeled and hiked. We visited animal shelters and farms, fairs and music festivals. We planted a garden, watched it come to fruition (literally) and ate the rewards of summer—cucumbers and watermelon, squash and tomatoes. We sucked the marrow out of summer. We were a Beach Boys song, a Teen Beach movie, a Norman Rockwell portrait of a time when the livin’ is easy.
But now, I’m ready, ready as in tearing-my-hair-out-counting-down-the-minutes (14,400) for my sweet girl, my love bug, my sugar tush, to go back from whence she came. School. Cue the bus, cue the teachers, cue the schedule where she’s in bed by nine and I get two hours, two sacred, delicious hours of reading or writing or watching Netflix. Woo hoo! Move over late night cartoons and move in mama sipping a gin n’ tonic and watching Breaking Bad for a third time. Yes, a third time because Walter White is the Hamlet of television.
It is a trade and I love both lives. We are not scheduled people, so to assimilate into the groove of homework and rushed evenings is at first excruciating. Drill Sergeant is not my favorite mom hat. “Eat your dinner! Finish your homework! Take a bath! Into bed! Go, go go!” I’d much rather dawdle through dinner, wade through a bath and sink into bedtime with stories and snuggles.
But a school schedule means I can work out without a child jumping onto my back for a horse ride through each pushup. I can shop at the grocery store without someone stealing my cart for a drag race down the frozen foods section. I can make business calls that are unriddled with interruptions like, “don’t put the guinea pigs in the bathtub,” and “get off the roof,” and “that will electrocute you!”
School starting, in a nutshell means I get myself back.
By the time I pick my kiddo up from school, I’ve actually missed her. I haven’t been privy to every snack, riddle, and hilarious story that happened when someone shoved something up their nose during recess. School gives us a rigid schedule, but it also gives us freedom—freedom to live our own lives for 6.5 hours and then come back together to enjoy each other’s company. The end of summer is an ending but it is also a beginning, to appreciate a smaller window of time where the bedtime is early, homework is necessary, but the livin’ is still (for the most part) easy.