Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Changing of the Guard




Today I left my children.

I left them for nearly seven hours. And from the looks of things, I will leave them five days a week for the next ten months. I left them at a school.

Of course this doesn't sound so dramatic if you don't know I have homeschooled them for five years and neither of them - ages nine and six - have ever been to school before.

After a harrowing school year here at home last year while trying to juggle mine and hubby's continuing educations and the kids' educations and hubby's job and all the other stuff life has to offer, we made a decision to send the kids to school on a two-year plan. In the span of that two years I would return full-time to finish my degree. At the end of that two years my oldest would be ready to start middle school and my youngest - age three now - would be ready for Kindergarten. The perfect time for reevaluation.

Much struggle came with that decision, but in the end we did feel it was the right one. So in May, the plan was made. As long as that plan stayed looming in the future, it was easy to live with. Kind of like that long distance relative you send a Christmas card to but never really want to invite over to stay for the holidays. It was great in theory.

I started feeling some nerves about its impending approach last week, waking up in the middle of the night in a panic, sometimes not able to go back to sleep. However, I was holding up pretty well. Surprisingly well. I was able to talk about it without getting emotional even though everyone else seemed ready for me to break down at any given minute. Friends called and emailed me, poised to step in and pick up the pieces, but the pieces never fell. I even managed to make it through enrollment and school supply shopping without even a hint of drama.

But it was very surprising - nay, freaky - that this morning while I walked them to their classrooms in their tidy uniforms and bulging backpacks, I didn't even feel a lump in my throat. I even worried a bit at my lack of emotion.

But see, that's the great thing about denial. I never really believed I would be leaving them. I never really believed the day would come.

It was only after I kissed my daughter's soft cheek and began taking those first steps away from her to the double doors that would separate us did I come to feel what had been hiding beneath all along. I taught them their letter sounds. I showed them how to put them together to form words. I made paper solar systems and peanut butter playdough. I was there for every lightbulb moment to see the spark of discovery ignited.

For the first time in their lives, I had made a commitment to turn those moments over to someone else.

My steps became quicker and more frantic as I raced against the tears I could no longer control. When I arrived at the van, hubby had the tissue box ready. He knew it had to come. Not sure why I didn't. Walking out of that school and coming home without them was...wrong. Leaving them there without knowing what they were doing for seven hours with people they didn't know...it was wrong.

Even though I know it was right.

I have applied makeup twice today in the hopes of fooling my face into feeling good. But it has only been washed away.

I miss them.
The picture above was taken just before I walked them into the building. I would like to tell you that they are indeed crying at the prospect of being apart from me, but the truth is that the sun was in their eyes. I would have taken another picture, but they were in a hurry. Sniffle.

21 comments:

Kyle said...

You are such a good mom. Supermom isn't dead - she's just wearing a different outfit.

jjofar said...

2 weeks...seriously. that is what it takes for me. it is a grieving process. i think your real reward will come after school today when you hear about all of the great friends they made. you will be amazed at their good decision making that is the result of good parenting. your feelings are that of a GREAT mom...proud to say, i'm right there with ya!

crazeemommy said...

I'm reading and crying right now. I thought about calling Monday nite and then all day Tuesday. My thoughts are with you. You're an amazing mom, wonderful friend, and a beautiful person. If you need anything, please call :)

nicole said...

I misted up reading your post. We homeschool now, but who knows what the future will bring? It would be a lot harder on me than on the kids, I think, if I were to send them off. But, if you think about it in the respect that, out of their entire school career, 2 years is NOT that long, and they will have had the benefit of all the rest of the time being with you. Don't beat yourself up! I wish you all the best

MamaofThree said...

I am a stay at home mom of four, all under 6, and about to embark on a homeschooling journey this year for the first time. I just loved this post! Made me laugh. Made me cry. Hang in there!

Michelle said...

My boys are going into 6th and 7th grade this year, and for the first time I have decided to home school. (Well, online charter school, but at home none the less.)

I think the fact that they aren't crying in the photo and didn't beg you to take them home, proves what an awesome job you have done with them. And don't worry about missing out on their school work, most likely they will start bringing home so much homework it will take hours to do all of it! ; )

Devi said...

awwww...i agree with kyle, this is just a different phase you're entering.....don't feel bad....just think of all the new experiences your children will be exposed to......buck up...it will be alright!

Qtpies7 said...

I have been in your shoes. It is a hard shift from knowing your kids need to be home with you and then turning them out to the world.
But we learned a lot, and not all of it was good, but not all of it was bad, either.
You'll make it through this and it will serve a purpose.

Ginny said...

I have to say that I think this will be a great experience for them. Even though there are issues with school, it helps teach kids how to deal with other people. That is really needed in the workforce, etc. It also helps teach them how to be on there own. One of the most important jobs as parents is to teach kids how to be away from us. It is hard, but much needed!

I'm sure it was hard, but I bet it will be a great opportunity for all of you through the good times & the bad.

I think that is awesome also that they didn't cry. Sometimes it feels like a stab in the gut, but it actually is a good thing!

Take care!

Christy said...

I made the same decision. I was going to homeschool my kindergartner-planned for it and dreamed about it for five years. But I couldn't do it. It just didn't work out and so she is now in her second week of kindergarten.

She loves it, it is just me that is still sad.

Lucy said...

Wow. I haven't read your blog in AGES (you stopped posting for a while, as I recall :)). Lots of changes.

I can relate to how you're feeling. We had planned to homeschool (I was homeschooled and loved it; why would I do anything different?), but health problems made it impossible for me to do it. It was SO hard, but we put our son in kindergarten. Three weeks into the school year. I cried the whole way home. Then, two weeks later, the charter school whose wait list he was on called with an opening. So he switched schools. It was not an easy transition. I drove home crying every day for the whole semester. He cried a lot, too.

But you know what? Now, he's in second grade and he loves school. He loves his teachers, he's made great friends (whose parents I know and like) and he loves learning. Putting him in school took a lot of pressure off our relationship and I was able to simply enjoy him for the first time in a long time.

So, all that to say, good work! It's really hard to let go, but you seem confident in your decision. You can always change your mind. I'm happy to see that you're doing so well and finishing up your school. Good luck!

Kristen said...

I think the hardest part of sending kids to school is it is the time where someone else is now spending more time with then in the day then we are... and as a SAHM that's not what I thought I was signing up for!
I miss mine dearly too... long to go back to the days of snuggling on the couch watching Trading Spaces. OK - well that only happened one day, but it was a great day and I remember it so well!

Christine said...

Great post. You really put your feelings on the line. I have never homeschooled but came very very close one year. Since my children excell in school and their social network is healthy (because I make sure I know their friends and family) they are doing fine.

Kids are tough. It is what goes on in the homelife that is most important.

And sometimes those hardknock life moments are what gives us character and strenth. It is a hard world out there.

Big Pumpkin said...

Awwwww.....it's tough, isn't it, especially when you've spent so many years with them. They'll miss you too and they'd come running home to you. You're an awesome Mom!

Chrysanthemama said...

How are they doing? We have a few homeschooling friends that sent their kids to public school this year too. I will keep praying for you and your little ones.

Steph at The Red Clay Diaries said...

I've been there too. I homeschooled my kids at first, but in my case, I discovered that it was not part of my gift mix.

So I sent them off to school three years ago, in 2nd grade and kindergarten. My youngest is entering kindergarten this year.

A wise counselor told me that she believed that the key to success in schooling might not be public vs private vs home; it might be the involvement of the parents. Three years in, I tend to agree. I realized that I can still be *involved* in their education without being totally *in charge* of it. I hope your adjustment goes smoothly.

Joseph said...

Wow, two years is alright, do what you have to do, but by god, don't keep them in that education system too long, or you're going to pull out another hannah montanah, or eminem out. Where will your children be? I don't know.

But two years will be fine for them to "mature" up to the world.

And if you're going to keep them in the school system at least KNOW what they are experiencing - ask them did anything interesting happen to them - watch their expression - and help them discuss their feelings - and give them solutions - don't just be involved in their schooling...be involved in THEM.

Be said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kitty said...

I completely understand. My older boy started first grade this year, and I couldn't quite hold back the tears either. It is such a big step and it is hard to let go, not knowing how they will fare.
Hope your children have a great time at school!

Fire and only Fire said...

Lovely

Dave said...

good for you. did the right thing