It wasn’t until I started to change into my evening clothes that it hit me: I will never wear a uniform again. Not a public servant uniform that is, I can assure you. With relief I pulled my stress-sweat stained undershirts from my dresser drawer and dropped them decidedly into the trash can. I had been looking forward to this moment, but it passed with less ceremony than I imagined. Just another turning of the page into a new chapter. I must be getting old if I am starting to look at new chapters objectively.
The first 24 hours transitioning into a stay-at-home Mom has been a difficult one. A sticky, icky cold makes me want to drink lemon-honey tea and sleep while it drizzles outside, but kids don’t allow for that. Only semi-joking I told my co-worker, who felt bad that I had to spend my last full day at work with a kleenex almost permanently affixed to my face, that I was getting more rest at work than at home.
Immediately after work I went to pick up my eldest who took one look at me, ran to a hiding spot, and threw an unreasonable fit, the likes of which I haven’t seen from her in months, maybe a year. Sighing, I sat down on a tricycle to look her in the eye and tried to calm her with a gentle touch. The past month couldn’t have been easy on her, even though she’s been incredible through it all, so I tried asking her questions. In Sheparding a Child’s Heart Tripp wisely challenges parents to address the heart, not the behavior, and I thought this was one of those moments where I needed to get to the heart of the matter. Well, she wasn’t going to have any of that. Due to her level of defiance, a spanking in the bathroom wasn’t going to do either. She escalated quickly into the wait-’til-Dad-gets-home level of discipline. I ended up carrying her out to the car. How embarrassing. It was one thing to chase my child down at our home on range, but it was quite another to haul my child out of school dressed as a prison guard. On my last day, nonetheless.
To my disappointment she wouldn’t explain anything beyond, “I didn’t want to go home.” So much for getting to the core of the matter. Then, just to keep Mom on her toes, the next morning my daughter didn’t want me to leave her at school. I looked dumb. Feeling like I was drowning from my cold and with a baby balanced on one hip, I was unsuccessfully coaxing my daughter into the classroom. She was about to throw another uncontrollable fit. Finally, another mom complimented on her dress about five times. That did the trick, and she twirled into the center of the morning circle, her brimming tears forgotten. Dropping off the one child interrupted the schedule for the other child who screeched and screamed for one reason after another the next four hours. Teaching criminal youth how to diagram sentences suddenly seemed like a dream. I knew staying home full time was going to be hard for me, but I thought the first couple of days would be sweet.
Last week one of my colleagues rolled his eyes when he learned I’d be spending the next year at home with my kids, and he commented, “Yeah, I’ve never been one to sit around and watch soap operas all day. I hope you like it.” Had he missed all the jokes about how I worked too hard to be a state employee? Surely he didn’t imagine me going home to twiddle my thumbs. This is the ignorance I work with.
I corrected him: “I don’t have a TV, and I’ll be homeschooling.”
“Well, in that case,” he tried to recover, “you’ll have the smartest kids on the block.” That’s my plan. After today I’d like to know when I am supposed to have time to watch soap operas and eat chocolates. I’m not even sure when I’m going to fit in laundry and meal planning, let alone spelling and math.