Ben started kindergarten on Thursday.
Like virtually everything else, the experience of sending number two off to school was completely different from the first time around. I just couldn't seem to get worked up about it. Indeed, over the last few weeks quite a few people (who apparently actually read what I write here) have asked when I plan to post something about this, and I had started to feel a little guilty about not giving Ben's departure the same maternal angst that I so generously lavished on Lucy's. Right up to Wednesday night, I was completely cavalier about the whole thing. Even on Thursday morning, I was busily making special lunches and snapping first day pictures without a care in the world.
Because it was his first day, I drove him to school, and we chatted happily the whole way. I parked and walked him in. We found his seat, and he got out his brand new 24-pack of crayons, the one he wasn't going to have to share with his sister. He started to draw.
I said, "I can stay for a few minutes, but then I'm going to have to go to work."
He said, "Bye."
So I gave him a kiss and left. Wow, that was easy.
I walked back to my car, got in, and burst into tears.
Which is exactly what happened the morning I dropped Lucy off for the first time, except that this time I wasn't expecting it. This time it was kind of like when you stand up and whack the back of your head on something you didn't realize was there. Part of the resultant pain is from the whack, but part of it is just surprise, your brain going, "what was THAT? I didn't know there was something behind me!"
I cried all the way to work, absently wondering what was going on. Through meetings and lunch and more meetings, I sniffled and wondered. When I got home, I was greeted with enthusiastic hugs and stories of the first day, and I realized that I had not been worried about him. That wasn't it. What, then?
It wasn't until the next day, after the kids were at school and John was at work and I was getting ready to do my usual Friday morning chores, that it hit me: I'm alone here. It's over.
So that's what this is about, I thought. I don't have little kids anymore. I have... big kids. Schoolkids.
I haven't been home alone on a weekday in over seven years. It's very... quiet. I vacuumed the whole house without once stopping to play with legos or fix a transformer. For some reason, it took twice as long as usual. This is going to take some getting used to.