It’s Monday. A pair of little shoes sits empty at the front door. I think of the feet that fit inside, and I miss my children. They are asleep in their beds and I miss them. Because on Saturday I had to attend a class for work. All day. And on Sunday, I graded papers. All day. It’s 6:45 am and I’m leaving again. The weekend went by, as all weekends do, and I can’t be sure if I saw them.
When my oldest child was still an infant, I determined something about myself: I would never be a stay-at-home-mom. Not only were we unable to swing it financially, but I found I just wasn’t made for it. I wasn’t good at it.
But things are different now. I’m different now. It’s been almost seven years, and we’ve had two more kids since then. I’m patient now. More understanding. And I almost feel like I know what I’m doing.
Lately, I look out into the rows and rows of faces in my classroom, and I remember something a teacher friend said to me the first time she met Georgia: “I took ten years off when my kids were born because I thought, ‘Why am I spending all of my time with someone else’s children when I could be spending it with my own?'”
It’s true; for eight waking hours each day, I am with another mother’s children. And my own children have me for less than four. Sometimes, my middle one mistakenly calls me “Miss Kerrie” or “Grandma” the way my teenage students call me “Mom,” and I think that everything is confused. I watch as my girls, tucked inside their beds, struggle against sleep to hear another chapter of The Phantom Tollbooth because they just can’t stand to miss anything. I look forward to breaks and summer, and panic that they’ll be over before they’ve even begun.
Maybe it’s the way we started 2013: three cases of strep and a ruptured eardrum. PANDAS (and its residual effects). A stomach virus. Broken cars and air conditioners and refrigerators. Jane’s anemia. All before the first week of March was over. And it makes me think that if I was just around more, if I just took better care of them, of everything . . .
We work too much. This world moves too fast.
I find myself wanting not to stay home, but to be home. Not because I think it would be easier (it wouldn’t), but because I want to see my kids. I don’t want to miss watching them grow up. I want to brush my daughter’s hair in the morning before she goes to school. I want to talk with her over breakfast. I want to go to her birthday lunch bunch on a Wednesday afternoon.
Because the truth is, there will always be other teenage students. But my kids aren’t coming around again.
My husband jokes that we could sell the house and a car and live out of the pop-up camper somewhere in the country. And there’s a part of me that thinks that idea isn’t half-bad.