I had a vague in-theory feeling before Gabriel started kindergarten that it would turn my world topsy-turvy, but couldn't begin to pinpoint why. And I still can't. But it has.
After all this angst about wanting more time off, missing my adult side, having dreams about going back to work and the fridge being empty, today I woke up in a minor panic about all my children growing up and leaving me. It's as though my mom instincts have kicked back in and swung me the other way. I know I'll reach equilibrium eventually, but even though I anticipated an adjustment, it's been even more than I realized -- and it's still happening.
This morning, Dave got the boys off to school before I even saw them. Then I had Katrina all day to myself, and she was a total delight. After breakfast, she played in the family room, crawling around and giggling to herself, making adorable "bah!" sounds, and just thoroughly enjoying herself.
I tried to get some video of her being hilarious at lunch, but as soon as I turned the camera on, she mostly was just looking for more food. This was the best I could get.
She woke up late enough from her morning nap that I was able to plan to pick Gabriel up directly from his kindergarten class today. And though she was getting ready for nap#2, we actually managed it!
(Talking to Steph today made me realize this might not be clear: I don't drop Gabriel off at his kindergarten class, nor do I pick him up. We drop him off at the CDC, which is a daycare center about 20 feet away in a different building on his school campus. Then, the CDC staff takes him to school at 10:40am, and picks him up from school at 2:45pm and brings him back to the daycare center. There, they amuse him until we're good and ready to pick him up. It's exactly what working parents would do, and we pay dearly for it. I really like the CDC, that's where he went for summer "camp," the staff is very very nice and caring and fun, and they have lots and lots of fun older-kid stuff for him to do. It's well-run and communication is good -- the school itself could learn something from them. Still, I'd like to cut out either the morning or afternoon CDC care, but right now, Gabriel's kindergarten schedule conflicts squarely with Katrina's naps and the rest of our lives. I know other moms work around this, but I haven't figured out how yet.)
The pickup was instructive: I got an initiation to the traffic patterns (basically, stop and more stop behind a parade of minivans), and learned another basic thing about kindergarten vs. preschool: you pick them up when the teacher is ready, not when you're ready. There's no "I'm here, let's go!" Instead, it's "wait outside until they're let out." A subtle but significant difference, especially when you're toting along a baby on the verge of a nap. And no fun if it's raining, I imagine.
Fortunately, Katrina held it together, beaming at other moms, bouncing in the stroller, cackling and laughing and putting on her best cute-baby show.
One of my biggest objections to Gabriel's schedule is that he's away from home full-time every day, and it's too much for me. I miss him. Gabriel! Yes, my wily, challenging, independent tough cookie. Who's in a most delightful place in life right now. I even miss seeing the boys play together all afternoon! Is that possible? Just two weeks ago I couldn't wait for that to be over! A severe case of the grass is greener, or what?!
I'm SO glad I was able to bring Gabriel home this afternoon. Katrina went down for her nap right away, then I had a very nice quiet time alone with Gabriel. We had a snack, we talked about school a little, he showed me some numbers on the calculator and had me help him say them, we talked about how many minutes there are in a day, and he calculated it on his calculator.
And, we made some chocolate-zucchini muffins together. Betsy sent me a recipe with allspice in it, which was juuust enough excuse to make it. Plus, the boys had a sleepover at Tonya's tonight, so I thought I'd bring some goodies. I let Gabriel do way more than I usually do, including cracking eggs himself (splat!), pouring things into measuring cups, and handling the mixer. No easy feat because all he wants to look at is what number the mixer speed is set to. But we had a great time.
It was a really, really nice afternoon with my delightful firstborn child, after a really, really nice morning with my delightful lastborn child. I didn't get to spend much time doing "me" stuff, but for once, the pull wasn't there today.