An important chapter in my life comes to a close tonight. It has been my greatest joy to be home with my children for three full years. I did it all, or at least, everything that I thought mattered to them: field trips, packed lunches, brought in forgotten homework assignments or gym clothes, picked them up from school when they were sick, attended class parties. I held Noah's hand every day that he walked into preschool. I was at every concert, every performance, and every event a parent was invited to. Except lunch periods. I never volunteered to be a lunch mom. It was too close to my old job, and I know how gross it is.
It wasn't just about their events, either. It was learning to build their world exactly how I wanted it. Sit-down meals and fresh fruit in the fridge. Clean, folded clothes and neatly arranged throw pillows. I redecorated their playroom to accommodate them, creating a homework area and a learning center because they just keep getting older. I learned how to clean grout in my kitchen floors. I learned that having all boys means bleaching around the bottom of the toilet at least three times a day, but really every time they use it. I wiped poop off the bathroom walls. I have clean baseboards. I have dishpan hands. I know how to get armpit stains out of my husband's shirts and I make sock balls. With matching socks. If you know me at all, you will find the fact that I match socks to be astonishing.
Much of this would have gotten done regardless, and for many of you it's combined with the hectic-ness I am about re-embark on. The beauty of it, for me, was that I was able to dedicate myself to it. It's kind of old-fashioned, but I was given the opportunity to be just one thing for awhile, to pick one thing and just give it all my energy. I chose my family, and I will never regret it, and after tonight, I will never stop missing that.
And, of course...my Max. My last born, my surprise. Tomorrow I will miss feeding him breakfast. I will miss his smelly morning diaper and his big round tummy as I change his clothes for the day. I will miss his silly toothy smile and the way he crawls like a little robot. There is a good chance I won't see his first steps (although any good babysitter would knock him down until I got home, for crying out loud). Every minute of the day, I will wonder if he wonders where I am. I will worry about the corner of the coffee table where always almost hits his head. I will wonder if he is crying or laughing. I will want, with all my heart, for him to miss me, and I will hope just as much that he doesn't even notice I'm gone.
I will love the long quiet rides to and from work. I will love adult conversation with my friends, people I've missed a lot. I will love hanging posters about verbs and theme and quarterly grades. I will love using my scented Mr. Sketch markers and making activities with index cards because frankly, index cards rock.
But I will miss the (considerable) weight of my baby in my arms. I will miss seeing my boys get off the bus every day. I will miss the feeling of exhaustion at the end of the day that came from giving everything I had to people who mean everything to me. I'll be fine, and they will be fine, I know that. We'll be better than fine, probably. Everything will get done and we will all adjust. But deep in my heart will be a sad place, and right next to it will be a glimmery patch that hope-hope-hopes I made some small, good difference in my children's lives by being there for them.
It certainly changed me.