It’s my last first day of school. My four-year-old daughter, my baby, is heading to kindergarten. For the first time in over a decade, I will come home to an empty house.
When my eldest started school, it was perfect timing. I had twin newborns who were crying out for my attention. They had enough competition between each other, and were probably relieved to realize that there was one less kid in the house.
When my twins started junior kindergarten, it was the same. I dropped them off with a newborn baby attached to my torso. Every day, I put that back-breaking baby carrier on and dropped her in and then promptly shuttled the twins to their front door. Likewise, we were always both waiting for them as they spilled back out again.
When I drop my daughter off on her first day of school, there will be just an audience of one. When I pick her up again, no longer an entourage. She doesn’t need one anyway. She’ll be going to a school she knows well from events and assemblies. Since it is a small school to begin with, her twin brothers will be just down the hall from her, whatever class she finds herself in.
But me? I’ll be coming home to an empty house. My days no longer compromised by anyone else’s needs. I imagine myself going for long morning runs, and shifting my work hours to daytime rather than the nighttime they’ve been occupying for years now, with me finally reaching my desk only after the kids are tucked away for the night. Heck, I might even be able to watch this thing people call TV before closing my eyes for the night.
I thought I would be more sad, but to be honest (and yes, thanks to COVID-19 and homeschooling), I am truly looking forward to it.
It hit me as I was walking through the aisles of Babies “R” Us the other day. (My daughter had strayed from the Toys “R” Us section on an allowance money spending spree with her brothers.) As we passed car seats and baby slings and bouncers, I inwardly wondered if I would do it all again. And for the first time I can remember, my heart, not just my head, said no.
My husband always says that if he were younger, he would have more kids. I would, too. But I’m not. I’m 43 and my heart is full of passion projects—books and podcasts and businesses and charities I dream of launching. I have four beautiful, healthy, smart, creative, adventurous and, yes, challenging kids who require my full attention.
My kids constantly require me to up-level my parenting skills. I have a husband I get to dote on again. Friends I’ve only just begun reconnecting with, and new friendships I get to explore.
It’s the beginning of a whole new era for me, and many more moms I imagine, as we drop off our last baby for their first day of elementary school.
Look out world, because here we come.